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Since I don’t do theme podcasts or anything, the thoroughly unofficial subtitle of this latest one is “SOME of the Best of 2014.” Truth be told, it’s four hours long and I feel like I barely scratched the surface, so definitely the emphasis should be on “some.” By no means is it meant to be comprehensive, or am I claiming that it’s all the best and the rest sucked or anything like that. But some of the best stuff is here, so, you know, I hope you enjoy.
My intent was to make it three hours long, and then I got there and it just didn’t feel done without another hour’s worth of extended psych jams. That’s an odd habit to have. Could be worse. For what it’s worth, I was thinking of this as a companion for some of the year-end coverage that’s already been posted and is still to come. Some of this was inspired by picks from the Readers Poll, the submissions for which are still open. If you haven’t added your list yet, I’d greatly appreciate it.
And once again, hope you dig it:
YOB, “Nothing to Win” from Clearing the Path to Ascend
Fu Manchu, “Radio Source Sagittarius” from Gigantoid
Radio Moscow, “Death of a Queen” from Magical Dirt
The Golden Grass, “Stuck on a Mountain” from The Golden Grass
Monster Magnet, “No Paradise for Me” from Milking the Stars: A Reimagining of Last Patrol
Pallbearer, “The Ghost I Used to Be” from Foundations of Burden
The Skull, “Sick of it All” from For Those Which are Asleep
Electric Wizard, “Time to Die” from Time to Die
Orange Goblin, “The Devil’s Whip” from Back from the Abyss
Moab, “No Soul” from Billow
Sleep, “The Clarity” from The Clarity 12”
Mars Red Sky, “Hovering Satellites” from Stranded in Arcadia
Floor, “Rocinante” from Oblation
Slomatics, “And Yet it Moves” from Estron
Conan, “Foehammer” from Blood Eagle
Druglord, “Feast on the Eye” from Enter Venus
Apostle of Solitude, “Die Vicar Die” from Of Woe and Wounds
Pilgrim, “Away from Here” from II: Void Worship
Blood Farmers, “The Road Leads to Nowhere” from Headless Eyes
Lo-Pan, “Regulus” from Colossus
Elephant Tree, “Vlaakith” from Theia
The Well, “Mortal Bones” from Samsara
Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, “Counting Time” from The Shining One
Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, “Stokely up Now” from Black Power Flower
Joy, “Driving Me Insane” from Under the Spell of Joy
Greenleaf, “Depth of the Sun” from Trails and Passes
Mothership, “Priestess of the Moon” from Mothership II
Truckfighters, “Get Lifted” from Universe
Mos Generator, “Enter the Fire” from Electric Mountain Majesty
Mammatus, “Brain Drain” from Heady Mental
Øresund Space Collective, “Beardlandia” from Music for Pogonologists
My Brother the Wind, “Garden of Delights” from Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One
The Cosmic Dead, “Fukahyoocastulah” from Split with Mugstar
Montibus Communitas, “The Pilgrim to the Absolute” from The Pilgrim to the Absolute
Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t added your list yet, please do.
This was a hard list to put together. The top three have been set in my mind for probably the last month, but trying to work my way backwards from there was a real challenge — what’s a top 10 record, a top 20 record, a top 30, honorable mentions and all the rest. I’ve never done a full top 30 before, always 20, but the truth is there was just too much this year to not expand.
I’m still juggling numbers even as I put together this post, and I’m sure that by the time I’m done several records will have switched places. That’s always how it seems to go. What I’m confident that I have is a list accurately representing critique and my own habits, both what I gravitated toward in listening throughout the year and what I feel is noteworthy on a critical level. This site has always been a blend of those two impulses. It’s only fair this list should be as well.
Before we dig in, you should note this is full-length albums only. I’ll have a list of short releases (EPs, singles, demos) to come, as well as a special list of debut releases, since it seemed to be a particularly good year for them. And since I’m only one person, I couldn’t hear everything, much as I tried.
The kings of London’s heavy scene offered more powerhouse heavy rock with their eighth album and second for Candlelight, and their rabid and ever-growing fanbase ate it up. Back from the Abyss proved yet again that few can attain the kind of vicious force that seems to come so natural to Orange Goblin, and made it clear their domination shows no signs of losing momentum.
A darker affair from Port Orchard, Washington’s Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty still found its core in the songwriting led by guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed. They’re a band with some changes on the horizon, and I’ll be interested to hear what hindsight does to these songs. As it was, the hooks and downer vibes may have been in conceptual conflict, but the execution was inarguable.
Richer in the listening than 2012’s Misery Wizard debut, Pilgrim‘s II: Void Worship nonetheless held firm to the doomly spirit that’s made the Rhode Island outfit such a sensation these last couple years. Its longer songs, “Master’s Chamber,” “Void Worship” and the emotionally weighted “Away from Here,” were particularly immersive, and they remain a bright spot in doom’s future.
His long-awaited solo debut, John Garcia‘s John Garcia offered memorable tracks culled from years of songwriting from the former Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida and Hermano frontman, performed in the classic desert rock style he helped define. I’m not sure it was worth trading a second Vista Chino record for, but it was hard to argue with “The Blvd” and “All These Walls.”
An overwhelming two-disc barrage from a relentless creativity that, more than 30 years on from its first public incarnation, is still to be considered avant garde. I’m not sure planet earth realizes how lucky it is to have Swans running around unleashing all this chaos, but I hope they don’t stop anytime soon. To be Kind was brutal and beautiful in like measure.
Icelandic four-piece Sólstafir hit on a rarely attained balance of gorgeousness and melancholy, and while Ótta is expansive, it’s also gripping front to back and is the best execution of its style I’ve heard since Anathema‘s Alternative 4, which is not a comparison I make lightly. A challenging record, but satisfying in kind and universal in its expressiveness.
The follow-up to Greenleaf‘s stellar 2012 outing Nest of Vipers (review here) brought lineup changes and stripped away many of the textural elements of the band’s sound — guest appearances, arrangement flourishes — in order to get back to a classic heavy rock sound and translate better to the stage. With guitarist Tommi Holappa‘s songwriting ever at the core, it would be unfair to call the process anything but a success.
Most of the headlines went to the fact that Primitive and Deadly had vocals, where the generally-instrumental Earth had avoided singers for 18 years prior, but even putting aside Mark Lanegan and Rabi Shabeen Qazi, whose performance on “From the Zodiacal Light” was the high point of the record, presented Earth‘s always progressive tensions in a rawer, heavier production, and was a joy for longtime fans.
Six years and one breakup later, Portland, Maine, doom trio Ogre returned with The Last Neanderthal, neither afraid to revel in Sabbathian traditionalism or rock out a more upbeat cut like opener “Nine Princes in Amber.” For bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham, guitarist Ross Markonish and drummer Will Broadbent, it was a welcome resurgence of pretense-free heavy riffs and grooves.
Of course, at the time we didn’t know it would be the final outing from this lineup of UK doomers The Wounded Kings, whose guitarist/founder Steve Mills has now reunited with original vocalist George Birch, but Consolamentum was a hell of a closing statement anyway for this era of the band, showcasing their murky, increasingly progressive style still waiting for wider appreciation.
Wasn’t sure where to put Floor‘s reunion offering, Oblation, on this list at first, since I kind of fell off listening to it as the year went on, but I’ve gone back to it over the last couple weeks and it has held up to the revisit, whether it’s songs like the extended “Sign of Aeth” or shorter, catchy pummelers like “Rocinante” or “War Party.” Floor‘s 2002 self-titled holds an untouchable legacy in heavy rock, but I think the years will prove Oblation a worthy successor. Nobody knew what they had with Floor at the time either.
Little on 2011’s Motherfucker Rising (review here) or their 2010 demo (review here) prepared for the kind of assault that Druglord‘s Enter Venus brought to bear. Four stomp-laden slabs of tectonic crash and distortion, vocals buried under and calling up from the amp-bred fog. The Virginian trio were in and out on the 27-minute 12″ release, but had enough heavy for a record twice as long, and the tinges of darkened psychedelia made their songs like a lurking presence just on the edge of consciousness, a threat waiting to be unleashed.
For the sheer variety of Ararat‘s third album in rockers like “Nicotina y Destrucción,” “El Hijo de Ignacio,” the experimentalism of “El Arca” and the piano-driven “Los Viajes” and the acoustic closer “Atalayah,” and the assured, flowing manner in which the Argentina trio pulled it all off, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz should be higher on this list than it is. Part of that might be my frustration at my apparent inability to buy a copy, but don’t let that take away from the quality of the material here, which is wonderfully chaotic, memorable and engaging, rushing in some places and stopping to weep in others.
You won’t hear me deny that Radio Moscow‘s primary impact is as a live band, but their fifth album, Magical Dirt, managed to bring forth much of their psychedelic blues presence in “Death of a Queen,” “Before it Burns” and “Gypsy Fast Woman,” the blinding rhythmic turns and wah-soaked guitar supremacy of Parker Griggs front and center throughout. Together with bassist Anthony Meier (also Sacri Monti) and drummer Paul Marrone (also Astra and Psicomagia), Radio Moscow are hitting their stride as one of heavy rock’s most powerful power trios. One never knows what to expect, but hopefully they keep going the way they are.
Four years isn’t the longest time I’ve ever waited for a record to come out, but in the case of Indianapolis’ Apostle of Solitude, it felt like an especially long stretch. Their third full-length and first for Cruz del Sur, Of Woe and Wounds followed the anticipation-building Demo 2012 (review here) and a couple splits and brought aboard bassist Dan Dividson and guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay), who fit well with drummer Corey Webb and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown to result in a payoff worthy and indicative of the time that went into its making. Hands down one of the finest acts in American doom.
Stubb‘s second long-player, also their debut on Ripple, gets a nod for the sense of progression it brought in answering the potential of the trio’s 2012 self-titled debut (review here), guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist Peter Holland and new drummer Tom Fyfe expanding the scope to include more heavy psych influence and soul along with the fuzz riffs and steady rolling while giving no ground in terms of the level of craft at work. Cry of the Ocean has become one of those albums where all I have to do is look at a title, be it “Cry of the Ocean Pt. I” or “Sail Forever” or “Heartbreaker,” and the song is immediately stuck in my head. With these tracks, that’s not at all a complaint.
14. Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Black Power Flower
Brant Bjork has worn many hats, literal and figurative, over the years, whether it’s drummer in Kyuss or Fu Manchu, producer, solo artist or bandleader. With Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, he steps once again into the latter role, and with guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, presents not only on his heaviest record to date, but what could easily begin a sustainable full-band progression that can go just about anywhere his songwriting wants to take it. “Stokely up Now,” “That’s a Fact Jack,” “Controllers Denied” and “Boogie Woogie on Your Brain” made for some of 2014’s best in desert rock, and Black Power Flower was an stellar return for Bjork to his “solo” work.
An earlier version of this list had Pagan Fruit at a lower number, but I couldn’t live with it not being closer to the top 10. Salt Lake City’s Dwellers pushed deeper into laid back psych and blues on their second album, and in doing so, crafted an atmosphere entirely their own. From “Creature Comfort” down to “Call of the Hollowed Horn,” with triumphs along the way like “Rare Eagle,” “Totem Crawler” (“Ohh, my queen… To whom, I crawl…) and “Son of Raven,” Pagan Fruit became a staple of my 2014, building off their 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here), but presenting their stylistic growth with a confidence and poise that can only come from a band who’ve figured out what they want to be doing and how they want to do it. Front to back, Pagan Fruit sounds like an arrival.
What made Brooklyn trio The Golden Grass‘ self-titled debut such a special released wasn’t just that it was heavy, or that the tracks were catchy, or that guitarist Michael Rafalowich and drummer Adam Kriney could harmonize over Joe Noval‘s warm-toned basslines. That was all great, don’t get me wrong, but what really stood out about The Golden Grass was its irony-free positivity, the way it was able to capture an upbeat, sunshiny feel without having to smirk about it on the other side of its mouth. It was self-aware, to be sure — knew what it was doing — but the way I see it, consciousness only makes the stylistic choices more impressive. Add to that the nuance they brought to ’70s revivalism, and all that stuff about catchiness and the harmonies, and there just wasn’t a level on which the album didn’t work.
My appreciation continues to grow for The Well‘s Samsara, which successfully pulled together influences from garage doom and heavy psychedelia while crafting an identity for the Austin, Texas, three-piece at once raw and melodically accomplished, guitarist Ian Graham and bassist Lisa Alley sharing vocals to classic effect on “Refuge” while otherwise trading off lead position to bolster variety in the material. The high point might’ve been the eight-minute “Eternal Well,” on which Graham, Alley and drummer Jason Sullivvan conjured some of their grooviest demons, but the hooks of “Mortal Bones,” “Trespass” and the attitude-laced “Dragon Snort” were no less engaging. One of many strong releases from their label this year — Slow Season, The Picturebooks, etc. — they seemed to come ready to serve notice of a stylistic movement underway.
10. Montibus Communitas, The Pilgrim to the Absolute
Peruvian psych adventurers Montibus Communitas more or less blew my mind when I heard their late-2013 offering, Harvest Times earlier this year, and the narrative, conceptual 2014 release, The Pilgrim to the Absolute, is even more of an achievement in its portrayal of improvised exploration, sonic ritualism and open creativity. The weaving of longer pieces against shorter ones with the various steps along the path as presented in the titles, some journeying, some arriving, some descriptive, almost all accompanied by nature in one form or another, gives The Pilgrim to the Absolute an almost impressionistic quality, so that even as you listen to it, you engage it as much as it carries you along its vibrant, breathtaking progression en route to the closing title-track, which is a destination every bit worthy of the journey. This is the most recently reviewed inclusion on this list, but Montibus Communitas‘ latest readily earns its place in the top 10. It is unique in its surroundings.
Looking back at the last two Fu Manchu records, 2007’s We Must Obey and 2009’s Signs of Infinite Power, it seemed reasonable to expect the groundbreaking SoCal fuzz foursome to put out another collection of big-sounding riffs in a big-sounding production. Nothing to complain about, but probably not a landmark. By going the other way completely — stripping their buzzed-out riffing down to its punkish core thanks in no small part to recording with Moab‘s Andrew Giacumakis — Fu Manchu served up a raw reminder both of where they came from and how top notch their songwriting remains. Reissuing their earliest work and being on their own label might’ve had something to do with it, but whatever it was, the 35 minutes of Gigantoid was as efficient a heavy rock outing as one could hope from an already legendary band, whether it was the hook-prone opening salvo of “Dimension Shifter,” “Invaders on My Back,” “Anxiety Reducer” and “Radio Source Sagittarius” or the righteous ending jam “The Last Question.”
Given the origins of The Skull — ex-Trouble members Eric Wagner, Jeff “Oly” Olson and Ron Holzner joining with Lothar Keller and a series of other guitarists, finally Matt Goldsborough, working essentially as a tribute band to their former outfit — I think not only did the quality of the material and performance on For Those Which are Asleep surprise, as well as the classically doomed feel that resonates throughout the album, but the sheer heartfelt nature of songs like “Sick of it All,” “Send Judas Down” and the title-track itself. This wasn’t a cynical attempt to make a go of an already set legacy. It was an expression of appreciation both for what they accomplished as Trouble and a desire to continue that work. The Skull‘s whole thing has been that they’re “more Trouble than Trouble,” and in their lineup that’s been true since they brought Olson on board. For Those Which are Asleep demonstrated that the classic spirit of that band is alive and well, its address has just changed. Moreover, it’s the beginning of a new progression for that spirit, and I hope it continues.
Nineteen years after releasing their self-titled debut, New York’s Blood Farmers contended for 2014’s comeback of the year with their sophomore outing, Headless Eyes — a morose, horror-obsessed six-track collection that on “Night of the Sorcerers” owed as much to Goblin as to Sabbath. The closing cover of David Hess‘ theme from The Last House on the Left, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” was a late bit of melodic flourish to add depth, but how could the highlight be anything other than the 10-minute title-track itself, with its samples from the 1971 horror flick The Headless Eyes, bassist Eli Brown in a call and response with lyrics comprised of lines directly taken from the movie? That after playing shows the last several years, Blood Farmers managed to get a record out was impressive enough. That Headless Eyes turned out to be the year’s best traditional doom release was an entirely different level of surprise. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for their third, but Brown, guitarist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Leger gave plenty to chew on with Blood Farmers‘ second. It was better than would’ve been fair to expect.
A lot of what you need to know about Lo-Pan‘s fourth album you learn in the first five seconds of opener “Regulus.” There’s no fancy intro, no time wasted, nothing to take away from the directness of the song itself. Tones are crisp — the verse is already underway — and guitar, bass and drums are laser-focused in their forward movement. Even when vocalist Jeff Martin enters the song, roughly six seconds later, his arrival comes with no indulgence, no pomp. Colossus is easily Lo-Pan‘s most immediate work to date, and throughout, Martin, guitarist Brian Fristoe (since replaced by Adrian Zambrano), bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz retain that focus no matter where the material takes them, delivering a clinic in how to kick as much ass as possible at any given moment on cuts like “Marathon Man” and “Eastern Seas,” or even bringing in guest vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, who also designed the album cover, for a spot on “Vox.” They had a hard task in following up 2011’s Salvador (review here), but the Columbus, Ohio, unit stood up to the challenge and met it and everyone else head-on.
What to do with All Them Witches‘ Lightning at the Door? The Nashville four-piece released the album last fall digitally, but it wasn’t until this September that it saw a physical manifestation. In fact, if you go back, it was included on the Top 20 of 2013 as well. Which is the release date? I don’t know. What I know is that in terms of the sheer amount of time spent listening, I put on Lightning at the Door more than any other record this year. From where I sit, that alone gets it a place in the top five. Yeah, it might be a cop-out to do a “5a,” but sometimes exceptions have to be made, and All Them Witches have proved to be nothing if not exceptional in their still relatively brief, jam-laden history, the psych-blues dynamic between bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Fender Rhodes specialist Allan van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler pushing them quickly to the fore of American heavy rock’s innovators, their natural, improv-sounding material feeling brazen and exploratory while reshaping the elements of genre to suit their needs. One can only see this dynamic developing further as they continue to grow as a live band, so Lightning at the Door may just be the start, and that’s perhaps most exciting of all.
A beautiful, stunning work made even more powerful by the honesty driving it. Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain completed a trilogy with the Billy Anderson-produced Mobile of Angelsthat brought about some of the best doom of this young decade, their 2011 return from a years-long hiatus, South of Salem (review here) serving as the foundation for a stylistic progression that continued on the following year’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and onto Mobile of Angels itself as the four-piece’s most accomplished album to date. The reason it feels like such a concluding chapter is because of the departure of vocalist Uta Plotkin, whose voice helped establish Witch Mountain both on stage and in the studio, leaving founders Rob Wrong (guitar) and Nathan Carson (drums) with the sizable task of finding a replacement. That situation will be what it will be, but Mobile of Angels remains a gorgeous, lonely testament. Plotkin gives a landmark performance on “Can’t Settle” and “The Shape Truth Takes,” which in the context of what was happening in Witch Mountain at the time ring with a truth that’s rare in or out of doom, and she seems to have left the band just as they were hitting their finest hour. So it goes.
In all of heavy, there is no assault so severe as Conan‘s. With their second full-length and debut on Napalm Records, the UK trio solidified the two sides of the preceding 2012 outing, Monnos (review here), in constructing material that, fast or slow, short or long, retained an epic feel melded with their ungodly tonality and memorable songwriting. Their first recording at guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis‘ Skyhammer Studio, it affirmed Conan‘s will to conquer in its two massive bookends, “Crown of Talons” and “Altar of Grief,” and in the High on Fire-worthy gallop of “Foehammer” — a bludgeon commandingly wielded by Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe and drummer Paul O’Neil, the latter to of whom have since left the band to be replaced by longtime-producer Chris Fielding and Rich Lewis, respectively. What effect the changes might have on the band — except apparently more touring, which isn’t a bad thing — have yet to be seen, but Conan are already in the process of writing a follow-up to Blood Eagle, so it doesn’t seem like it’ll be all that long until we find out. With Davis still steering the band in songwriting and overall direction, one severely doubts they’ll be fixing what obviously isn’t broken anytime soon. None heavier.
Dallas riff-rockers Wo Fat have grown steadily over the course of their five albums, from the nascent heavy roll of 2006’s The Gathering Dark, to the hooks of 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), the jamming that started to surface on 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here) and was pushed further on 2012’s The Black Code (review here). And their approach has been as steady as the frequency of their releases. In making The Conjuring, the three-piece were simply engaging the next step in their progression, but the material on the five-track/48-minute outing goes further than just that. Putting aside (momentarily) the 17-minute closer “Dreamwalker,” the other cuts, “The Conjuring,” “Read the Omens,” “Pale Rider from the Ice” and “Beggar’s Bargain” each found a place for themselves in pulling together jammed-sounding elements with a memorable construction, and when guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter did kick into “Dreamwalker,” they hit on not only their longest piece yet, but their most accomplished showcase of the chemistry that has developed between them. That song is a beast unto itself, but as has been the case with Wo Fat each time out so far in their career, there’s nothing on The Conjuring to give the impression the band can’t or won’t continue to keep going on the path that’s worked so well for them on this point. They’ve spent the last eight years on the right track and have yet to waiver. The Conjuring should be played at top volume for anyone who contends there’s no life left in heavy rock and roll.
Mars Red Sky‘s second LP and first for Listenable, Stranded in Arcadia was originally supposed to be recorded in the California desert, but visa problems kept the French trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz in Brazil, where they’d previously been touring. Thus, “stranded in Arcadia,” which is basically another way of saying “lost in paradise.” Can’t say the Bordeaux three-piece didn’t make the most of it, though. Songs like “The Light Beyond” and “Hovering Satellites” — not to mention the utter melodic bliss of “Join the Race” — took cues from their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) in terms of memorable songwriting and melodic craft, but added to that heft and tonal richness more of a psychedelic vibe, so that not only was there fuzz and wah, but a spacious world in which the songs took place. With Kinast on lead vocals, the sneaky boogie of “Holy Mondays” became a highlight, and the one-two swing ‘n’ stomp of “Circles” and “Seen a Ghost” were a perfect demonstration by the band of the various sides of their sound, particularly following after the dreamy instrumental “Arcadia,” an echoing jam distinguished by Pras‘ wistful guitar lead and coming before the closing “Beyond the Light,” which reprises the opener’s resonant unfolding. It probably wasn’t the record they intended to make, but Stranded in Arcadia became one of my go-to albums for 2014, and like the best of any given year’s output, I’ve no doubt it will transcend the passage of time and continue to deliver for years to come. Hell, I was barely done with the debut when this one came out.
Can’t imagine this is any great surprise. Not only did Clearing the Path to Ascend – YOB‘s seventh album and first for Neurot — produce my pick for song of the year in its sprawling, emotionally weighted 18-minute closer, “Marrow,” but in the three full-lengths the Eugene, Oregon, trio of drummer Travis Foster, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt have released since the latter reformed the band after breaking it up following 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived, all three have been my album of the year. The Great Cessation was in 2009, and Atma was in 2011. Consistency aside, I’ll point out specifically that each of the same three records has earned that position, perhaps Clearing the Path to Ascend most of all for its progressive feel, moving past genre even at its most raging moment, second cut “Nothing to Win,” the chorus of which proved that among everything else YOB could be, they could be anthemic. The cosmic, spiritual questing that has always been present in their songs, that feeling of searching, showed up in opener “In Our Blood,” but even there, it was evident YOB were pushing themselves beyond what they’ve done before, rewriting their own formulas incorporating lessons from their past in among their other points of inspiration. “Unmask the Spectre” could have easily been an album closer itself, with its patient exploration and feverishly intense payoff, but with the melodic progressivism of “Marrow” and the soul poured into every second of that track, every verse and chorus, solo and build — including the Hammond added to the last of them by producer Billy Barnett — YOB created a landmark both for themselves and the increasing many working under their influence. I’ve said on several occasions (bordering on “many” at this point) that YOB are a once-in-a-generation band, and it feels truer in thinking of Clearing the Path to Ascend than it ever has. Without a doubt, album of the year and then some.
First, special note to Colour Haze‘s To the Highest Gods We Know. I’ve decided to count it as a 2015 release since the vinyl will be out in Spring, but otherwise surely it would earn a place on this list. Blackwolfgoat‘s Drone Maintenance also deserves note.
A few other honorable mentions:
Mothership, Mothership II — It’s hard to argue with a classic heavy rock power trio kicking ass. I won’t try.
Alunah, Awakening the Forest — Every time I make a list, no matter what kind of list it is, there’s a band I wind up kicking myself for forgetting about at the time. This is the case 100 percent with why Alunah aren’t in the Top 30. In fact, I might go in and swap them out with somebody.
Ice Dragon, Seeds from a Dying Garden — Boston experimental psych/garage doomers continue to defy expectation. May their weirdness last forever and continue to produce material so satisfying.
Truckfighters, Universe – I thought at some point I’d go back to Universe again, but never really did. A problem with me more than the album.
Steak, Slab City — An impressive debut following two strong EPs.
Godflesh, A World Lit Only by Fire — I never got a review copy, so I never reviewed it. Its name is here because I’m a fan of the band and glad they’re back.
Thou, Heathen — Just recently purchased this and am only getting to know it, but a ridiculously strong album.
Corrosion of Conformity, IX — Everybody who gets a boner whenever Pepper Keenan is mentioned in connection with this band has missed out. This record and the self-titled kick ass.
Spidergawd, Spidergawd — Holy shit they’re over here! No they’re over there! No wait over here again! Oh my god I’ve just gone blind!
Monster Magnet, Milking the Stars — I wasn’t sure what to do with this since technically it’s not a new album, mostly reworked songs from the last one. I still listened to it a ton though, whatever it is.
Slomatics, Estron — Another one I’m just getting to know, but am very much digging.
Electric Wizard, Time to Die — People seem to do this thing where Electric Wizard puts out a record, everyone slathers over it for a few months and then spends the next two years talking about how it sucked. I guess I’ll be on the ground floor with not having been that into Time to Die.
Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden — Had to put their name somewhere on this list or someone would burn my house down. Album of the year for many.
The list goes on: Monolord, Comet Control, Mammatus, Triptykon, Eyehategod, Fever Dog, Moab, Karma to Burn, Atavismo, Grifter, 1000mods, Megaton Leviathan, Wovenhand, Mr. Peter Hayden, Primordial, and many more.
Before I check out and go sit in a corner somewhere to try and rebuild brain power after this massive dump of a purge, I want to sincerely thank you for reading. If you check in regularly, or if you’ve never been to the site before, if you don’t give a crap about lists or if you’re gonna go listen to even one band on here, it’s fantastic to me. Thank you so much for all the support this site receives, for your comments, for sharing links, retweeting, whatever it is. I am a real person — I’m sitting on my couch at this very moment — and being able to do this and have people see it and be a part of it with me is unbelievable. I realize how fortunate I am. So thank you. Thank you.
More to come as we close out 2014. I’ll have a list of short/split/demo releases, a year-end podcast, a list of the best debuts, a round up of the best live shows I saw, as much more as time allows. Please stay tuned.
And again, thank you. If I left anyone off the list, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments and contribute your own top albums, however many there are, to the Readers Poll.
At best, this stuff is a crapshoot. Until something’s just about in your hand, you never really know when or if it’s going to come out. But they’re fun, and it’s exciting to think of good music being released, so you do it anyway. On the whole, I don’t think I did that badly between the two lists. Of course there was stuff that wasn’t anticipated — Colour Haze‘s new album, To the Highest Gods We Know, walks by and waves en route to its Dec. 15 release date — but for what we got, it worked out well.
That’s the general overview, but because I hold myself to a standard of accountability more rigorous than, say, my nation’s torture-happy secret police, here’s a full rundown of the list as it was, now (as then), presented alphabetically and with the titles listed as they were at the time:
42 of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums — REVISITED!
1. Acid King, TBA: Word is Acid King‘s first in 10 years was mastered last month and will be out in Feb. 2015 on Svart.
2. Alcest, Shelter: Was way less post-black metal than their prior stuff, and I think it threw a lot of people off. Not a bad record (review here), but worked against lofty expectations.
3. All Them Witches, TBA: I remember including this because they said they were going back into the studio. Turned out they were recording the Effervescent EP/jam (review here). No regrets.
4. Alunah, TBA: Their new one was their Napalm Records debut, Awakening the Forest (review here). It was awesome. Score one for the list.
5. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance: Yeah, it was cheating to include this since I was there when it was recorded. Still a killer record though.
7. Conan, Blood Eagle: What does complete dominance sound like? Sounds like Conan to me.
8. Eggnogg, You’re all Invited: Was dying to hear what the Brooklyn trio came up with. No word on it yet.
9. Elder, Live at Roadburn 2013: Still don’t have a copy of this. Maybe I can pick one up when I get their forthcoming third studio album, Lore, out early next year.
10. 40 Watt Sun, TBA: More like “MIA” than TBA. Anyone heard from these guys?
11. The Golden Grass, TBA: Their self-titled debut (review here) was one of the finest first-albums I heard all year.
12. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes: Any Greenleaf is a treat. Trails and Passes (review here) was no exception.
13. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren: Solid follow-up (review here). Grifter‘s humor and lack of pretense serves them well.
14. Hull, TBA: Well, they had the Legend of the Swamp Goat single (review here) to coincide with their Euro tour. Waiting on the album.
15. Lowrider, TBA: I wouldn’t mind if this materialized right now. Or now. Or now. Or 2015. Or 2016.
16. The Machine, TBA: Might’ve jumped the gun on this. Hopefully in 2015.
17. Mars Red Sky, TBA: Easily one of the year’s best records. Stranded in Arcadia (review here) continues to get regular spins.
18. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty: A highlight of early 2014. Darker record (review here), but inarguable songwriting.
19. Mr. Peter Hayden, Archdimension Now: Fitting end to their trilogy and hopefully not their last outing.
20. Pallbearer, TBA: Their Foundations of Burden has topped year-end lists already. It’s still on my desktop. I’ve barely listened to it.
21. Papir, IIII: Very, very good. They seem to be developing, but IIII (review here) was a satisfying chronicle.
22. Pilgrim, TBA: Can’t say II: Void Worship (review here) wasn’t a win for the band since they did a month on the road with Spirit Caravan. Maybe overshadowed by more recent stuff, but a quality record.
23. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt: Their incendiary heavy blues was in top form on Magical Dirt (review here). Glad I got to see them live once or twice (or 18 times) as well this year.
24. Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today: Also residing on my desktop. A vocalist switch caught me off guard and I feel like I still haven’t given it a fair shot.
25. Sixty Watt Shaman, TBA: Really? I had Sixty Watt on the list? That seems ambitious. No doubt they’ll have something new eventually, but that was a pretty high expectation it would be out this year.
26. Skraeckoedlan, Gigantos: If this came out, no one told me. Seems like not yet.
27. The Skull, TBA: A stunner. As much as I looked forward to it, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) exceeded the excitement.
28. Sleep, TBA: Included as wishful thinking. Their The Clarity single (review here) was something to celebrate.
29. Slough Feg, Digital Resistance: I was really looking forward to this one. Kind of fell off with Digital Resistance (review here) after a while. Hard to argue with Slough Feg though.
30. Snail, Feral: Waiting on it for 2015.
31. Steak, TBA: The London four-piece followed two strong EPs with Slab City(review here), as heartfelt a showing of desert rock loyalty as I’ve heard.
Damn, this was a long list.
32. Stubb, TBA: I had my doubts it would arrive, but Stubb‘s Ripple Music debut, Cry of the Ocean (review here), found welcome when it did.
33. SunnO))) & Ulver, Terrestrials: One of two collaborations SunnO))) would have out in 2014. Heard a lot about it at the beginning of the year. Less now.
34. Tombs, Savage Gold: Good band, doing interesting stuff. I have a hard time transitioning from appreciating it to actually being a fan.
35. Triptykon, Melana Chasmata: Sorry, but when Tom G. Warrior puts out a record, you hop to. I didn’t review it to save myself having to buy a copy, but dug it anyway.
36. Truckfighters, Universe: I feel like this one picked up steam as the year went on. I didn’t go back to it as much as its predecessor, but Universe (review here) was a logical next step for them.
37. Valley of the Sun, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk: Nothing to complain about with the Ohio three-piece’s debut (review here) or the effort they put into supporting it throughout the year.
38. Weedeater, TBA: Nope. At least I knew it at the time.
39. Wolves in the Throne Room, TBA: Surprised a lot of people when Celestite (review here) was a companion piece for their last record instead of a new album proper, myself included.
40. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum: 2014 was quite a year for doom, and The Wounded Kings were right there at the start. This lineup may be gone, but Consolamentum (review here) holds up.
41. Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You: Rumor is guitarist Gary Arce has a few projects in the works for next year. Not sure if this is one of them or not.
42. YOB, TBA: We certainly know how this worked out, don’t we? If the votes in the Readers Poll are anything to go by, yes. Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) was a landmark, and this won’t be the last year-end list around here on which YOB make a showing.
The list from July had a few winners on it as well — Apostle of Solitude, Blues Pills, Bongripper, Brant Bjork, Earth, Lo-Pan, The Well, Witch Mountain, etc. — but I think we’ve probably got enough as it is.
With the year starting to wind down, I’ll be putting together my Top 30 Albums of 2014 in the next week or so. Please keep an eye out for that, and thanks for reading.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Still fresh off a lengthy tour alongside Spirit Caravan that took them across the country in support of their new album, II: Void Worship(review here), Rhode Island’s Pilgrim have announced their next tour starting June 14. They’ll headline this time around, escorting London’s Age of Taurus out to the Midwest to take part in the Days of the Doomed IV fest before circling back to the East Coast to close out at Brooklyn’s The Acheron.
I’m not sure how each of the bills checks out, but Druglord play Richmond, Wasted Theory are on the Indianapolis show, Iron Man play with them in Baltimore, and both Blackout and Holly Hunt are lined up for Brooklyn, so they’ve got some excellent company along the way. I don’t know who else is playing the New Bedford gig, but I know No Problemo has tacos, and that’s something.
What’s that, PR wire? You want to give dates and links? Well, by all means:
Critically-lauded doom purveyors, Pilgrim, announce headline tour with support from Age of Taurus!
Rhode Island’s Pilgrim are returning to the road in June with Age of Taurus! The east coast/Midwest tour begins on June 14th in New Bedford, MA and wraps up in Brooklyn on June 25th at the Acheron. The entire list of confirmed dates are available below, as well as onfacebook.com/hailthepilgrim.
Recorded at Moonlight Mile Recording by sound sage Mike Moebius and centered on tales of swords and sorcery, death, doom and widespread obliteration, PILGRM’s “II: Void Worship” is a frighteningly crushing exercise in pure, sonic doom. Each of its eight tracks ebb and flow into frenzied climaxes and fade into sweet audio depressions, molding perfectly crafted rock songs into twisted spires of critic, shadowy doom metal epics.
PILGRIM Tour w/ Age of Taurus 06/14 New Bedford, MA @ No Problemo 06/15 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie 06/16 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter 06/17 Johnson City, TN @ Hideaway 06/18 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl 06/19 Indianapolis, IN @ Fifth Quarter 06/20-6/21 Milwaukee, WI @ Days of the Doomed Festival (NO PILGRIM) 06/22 Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge (NO AGE OF TAURUS) 06/23 Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class 06/24 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery 06/25 Brooklyn, NY @ The Acheron
Since the early 2012 unveiling of their debut sonic behemoth, Misery Wizard, fans and critics alike have patiently yet anxiously awaited the second chapter in the ongoing legacy of the mighty Rhode Island trio that is PILGRIM. Their first release shook the metal underground to its core, making a loud, in-your-face effort to bring doom metal back to its most minimalist and archaic roots, restoring it to its former glory. Their critical success, paired with their controversial interviews and emotionally draining live performances have lead PILGRIM to excellence, traversing the globe performing sold-out shows in multiple countries and playing festivals alongside some of the biggest names in their genre. Two years later, the fabled outfit has returned with a brand new record, the highly anticipated next installment of their aural adventure, “II: Void Worship”.
“II: Void Worship” was released on April 1, 2014 in North America, and on March 28/31 in Europe/UK via Metal Blade Records. Music, cds, vinyl, and links to purchase the album digitally are available athttp://www.metalblade.com/pilgrim.
Posted in Reviews on April 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The 2012 debut from Rhode Island’s Pilgrim, Misery Wizard, seemed to come out of nowhere and “happen” very fast. A young trio from Providence, they released a demo in 2011, a split with Boston’s Ice Dragon, and were signed to Alan Averill of Primordial‘s Poison Tongue Records, an imprint of Metal Blade. With that considerable endorsement and a collection of churning melancholies rife with doomly atmospheres and ambient space, Misery Wizardmade a splash and Pilgrim did right in setting about almost immediately justifying it with extensive touring work. The hype abated as it does when new releases aren’t new anymore, but Pilgrim never strayed too far from public consciousness, jumping from Poison Tongue to Metal Blade proper as a result of their success for the release of their sophomore outing, II: Void Worship, an album that continues the band’s penchant for AD&D-worthy dark tales (see “In the Presence of Evil,” “The Paladin”), huge tones and pounding, slow grooves. From the beginning of the post-“Intro” opener “Master’s Chamber” (also the longest track at 10:36; semi-immediate points), guitarist/vocalist Jon “The Wizard” Rossi proves a conjuror worthy of any classic cave metal comparison you might want to put him against, successor to some of Karl Simon‘s woefulness as heard on the last The Gates of Slumber album, but bringing his own emotionality to it as well, particularly on the highlight and closer “Away from Here,” which seems to depart some from the epic-stories metaphor methodology that has become lyrical modus operandi for Pilgrim in favor of a more down-to-earth, straightforward take.
A major difference between II: Void Worshipand its predecessor is that in the interim the band has parted ways with bassist Eric “Count Elric” Dittrich. Ice Dragon‘s Brad Richardson has been taking on the role live, but I’m not sure who’s on the albumwith Rossi and drummer Cave “Krolg Splinterfist, Slayer of Men” Johnson. If a marked personnel shift as it is anytime a trio loses a member, Pilgrim‘s sound remains large and encompassing on the eight songs/44 minutes of the new record. They recorded in (scenic) Jersey City, NJ, with Mike Moebius at Moonlight Mile Recording, and even on “The Paladin” — which is among the faster riffs II: Void Worshiphas on offer — a sense of physical space is maintained in the songs and the guitar and bass both come through with more crunch than on Misery Wizard, closer to the band’s live sound. Not much of a surprise there given the road time Pilgrim has put in since their debut, the increase in confidence of the vocals on “The Paladin” likewise makes sense in the context of their development as a stage presence. Backing the longer “Master’s Chamber,” “The Paladin” and the subsequent “Arcane Sanctum” show a still-burgeoning dynamic at work, the latter starting a gradual linear build that’s as effective in its nod as it is running counter to the song before, while still flowing easily from it, capping side A with a melancholy, somewhat exploratory feel. Side B opens with the gloriously churning, extra-huge “In the Presence of Evil,” setting up two extended pieces — the title-track (8:52) and “Away from Here” (9:39) — and though like “Arcane Sanctum,” “In the Presence of Evil” is also instrumental, the energy infused into the plod makes it a standout all the same.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
II: Void Worshipwill be Pilgrim‘s first outing for Metal Blade proper after signing to the label following the success of their Misery Wizarddebut, which Metal Blade distributed via Alan Averill of Primordial‘s imprint, Poison Tongue. The band will also hit the road as openers for the reunited Spirit Caravan on their first North American run since getting back together, so it would seem their ascent continues. A new song, dubbed “The Paladin,” is streaming now, and album preorders are available through Metal Blade for what’s almost certainly one of 2014’s most anticipated doom releases.
This comes fresh off the PR wire:
PILGRIM: Rhode Island Doom Bringers To Release Sophomore Full-Length
New Track Streaming and Live Takeovers Confirmed
Wizards and warriors, rejoice, for the chosen one has returned! Since the early 2012 unveiling of their debut sonic behemoth, Misery Wizard, fans and critics alike have patiently yet anxiously awaited the second chapter from Rhode Island doom bringers, PILGRIM. Welcome II: Void Worship.
Wielding eight new epic tracks laden with tales of swords and sorcery, death, doom and destruction, II: Void Worship wasrecorded at Moonlight Mile Recording by audio architect Mike Moebius and supplies an extraordinary quality of tone and heaviness. With II: Void Worship,PILGRIM takes a new approach to their songwriting, replacing meditated, repetitive hypnosis-inducing dirges with more calculated and demented power-house riffs. They build, shape, and climb into frenzied climaxes and fade into sweet sonic releases, molding perfectly crafted rock songs into twisting spires of evil doom metal masterpieces. It is obvious that PILGRIM has matured, both musically and as individuals, in their past two years of global conquest.
II: Void Worship track listing: 1. Intro 2. Master’s Chamber 3. The Paladin 4. Arcane Sanctum 5. In The Process of Evil 6. Void of Worship 7. Dwarven March 8. Away From Here
In related PILGRIM news, the band will bring their epic earth-rumblings to the stage next month supporting reunited stoner rock icons, Spirit Caravan. Set to commence on March 7th in Baltimore, Maryland, the trek will rupture nearly two dozen cities and include a performance at this year’s edition of SXSW. See confirmed dates below.
PILGRIMw/ Spirit Caravan: 03/07/2014 Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD 03/08/2014 Straneg Matter – Richmond, VA 03/09/2014 Chop Shop – Charlotte, NC 03/10/2014 Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA 03/15/2014 SXSW – Austin, TX 03/17/2014 Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM 03/18/2014 Cheyenne Saloon – Las Vegas, NV 03/19/2014 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA 03/21/2014 Rotture – Portland, OR 03/22/2014 El Corazon – Seattle, WA 03/24/2014 The Shredder – Boise, ID 03/25/2014 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT 03/27/2014 Marquis Theater – Denver, CO 03/29/2014 Reggies – Chicago, IL 03/30/2014 Cactus Club – Milwaukee, WI 03/31/2014 The Fifth Quarter – Indianapolis, IN 04/01/2014 Outland Ballroom – Springfield, MO 04/02/2014 Rock Island Brewing – Rock Island, IL 04/03/2014 Fubar – St. Louis, MO 04/04/2014 Hi Tone – Memphis, TN 04/05/2014 V Club – Huntington, WV 04/06/2014 Hideaway – Johnson City, TN 04/08/2014 Pyramid Scheme – Grand Rapids, MI 04/09/2014 Skully’s – Columbus ,OH 04/12/2014 31st St Pub – Pittsburgh, PA 04/13/2014 Empire – Springfield, VA 04/14/2014 AS220 – Providence, RI 04/15/2014 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn NY
II: Void Worship is scheduled for release on April 1, 2014 in North America, and on March 28/31 in Europe/UK via Metal Blade Records. Special preorder packages, including vinyl, are currently available atmetalblade.com/pilgrim.
Posted in Features on January 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Getting ready to type this list is like standing on the precipice of a canyon. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea. Last year was an all-out assault of music. I couldn’t have heard it all even if I’d wanted to, and while it’ll probably be June before I feel like I’m sufficiently caught up on 2013, the new-car-smelling rush of 2014 is already underway.
And the only thing to do is press on — though I’ve tried on several occasions, I can’t seem to stop time and review everything that I’m fortunate enough to encounter — and that means glancing ahead to what’s coming in 2014. I know I said so before, but once again, Happy New Year.
One of my favorite things to do is to look forward to a new album. I consider it a sign of the endurance of the human spirit not only that new creative works are being completed and distributed at such a constant rate, but that we can still anticipate the resonance of those works upon their arrival. I don’t mind telling you this is the largest of any such list I’ve ever written for this site. Even as I start it, I’m finding more to add, and I’m sure when it’s done it won’t be complete. So it goes.
There’s more to say, but I’ve delayed enough. We’ll go alphabetically, which is only unfortunate because it puts YOB last. Thanks in advance for reading.
1. Acid King, TBA
We start the same place we started in 2013, with Acid King. The San Francisco giants have sworn up and down they’ll have a new record out this year, and while I’ve yet to see any solid word of its coming manifest, I remain hopeful that it happens. Of course, that was also pretty much the case going into 2013, but they toured Europe last fall and even came out to the East Coast for a show and played some new material (review here), so if it’s to be that IIIfinally gets a follow-up some nine years later, it’s worth keeping an eye out ahead of time. Acid King on Thee Facebooks.
2. Alcest, Shelter
To be released this coming week on Prophecy Productions, the fourth Alcest full-length, Shelter (review here), is billed as a major sonic turn away from the France-based outfit’s black metal influences toward brighter sonic fare. It is that, but the nostalgic melodies and crucial emotionality that has always been the root of Alcest’s sound remains intact. It will be interesting to see what the response is upon its release, but Shelteris an early point of fascination for 2014. Alcest on Thee Facebooks.
3. All Them Witches, TBA
I’m not sure what they’re doing in the studio, if it’s a single, an EP or a full-length album, but this past weekend, on Jan. 11, Nashville heavy psych rockers All Them Witches posted the above picture with the simple tagline “Recording.” Fair enough. It seems soon for them to have another LP after 2013’s excellent Lightning at the Door (discussed here), but that album seemed to arrive soon after 2012’s Our Mother Electricity (reissued by Elektrohasch in 2013; review here), so who knows? It’ll be fun to find out either way. All Them Witches on Bandcamp.
4. Alunah, TBA
UK doomers Alunah will make their debut on Napalm Records with yet-untitled third album. With wider distribution at their disposal than that received by their 2012 outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alunah really leave a mark on 2014, but more fascinating to me than how many people get to hear it is how the band — who’ve swapped out bassists since their last outing — will follow-up the tremendously memorable songs on White Hoarhound. No doubt they can do it, it’s just hard not to be impatient. Alunah on Thee Facebooks.
5. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance
I was fortunate enough to be invited down to Amps vs. Ohms in Boston when Blackwolfgoat (aka Darryl Shepard, also of Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, ex-Hackman, Roadsaw, etc. and a new project I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about yet) was tracking the follow-up to 2011’s Dronolith, which was released on this site’s in-house label, The Maple Forum. Raw tracks can sometimes prove to tell little about the finished product of an album, but each piece on Drone Maintenancethat I heard had a distinct atmosphere, and “Cyclopean Utopia” was heavy enough on its own to warrant inclusion here. Rumor also has it that Black Pyramid offshoot The Scimitar will release a studio debut this year. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp.
6. Causa Sui, Live at Freak Valley
Holding the promise of over 90 minutes of live-recorded material from the 2013 Freak Valley festival in Germany, Causa Sui‘s Live at Freak Valley will see release through the band’s own El Paraiso Records and should provide further insight as a companion piece to their 2013 studio full-length, Euporie Tide. As that album boasted such an engaging live and progressive feel, successfully meshing desert and krautrock influences, I’d expect no less from the live outing, which though they’ve put out studio jams before — their three-volume 2008-2009 Summer Sessionsis a joy worthy of the season — is their first official concert recording. El Paraiso Records website.
7. Conan, Blood Eagle
Six devastating tracks that both continue Conan‘s sonic dominance and usher in a new era for the band. Not only is their second full-length, Blood Eagle, their debut on Napalm Records, but it’s also the first Conan LP to be recorded at Skyhammer Studios, which was built and is owned by guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis. Producer Chris Fielding worked with the band previously on 2012’s Monnos (review here) and 2010’s Horseback Battle Hammer EP (review here), and Blood Eagle benefits from that now familiar collaboration, bridging the gap between the faster, catchy sides of Monnos and the complementing ultra-plod of its longer tracks. Album opener “Crown of Talons” also ranks among the heaviest things they’ve ever done, and “Foehammer” takes it’s name from Gandalf’s sword, Glamdring, so I don’t know what more you could ever ask of a full-length than that. Conan on Thee Facebooks.
8. Eggnogg, You’re all Invited
With the addition of bassist Corey Dozier to the rhythm section with drummer Jason Prushko, Brooklynite doom-funk stompers Eggnogg have been able to move vocalist Bill O’Sullivan to guitar from bass, giving Justin Karol a chance to act all the more as a lead player. How this new four-piece dynamic might play out on You’re all Invited — or even if Dozier played on it — remains to be seen, but from what I’ve caught live, it’s turned them into a thicker, fuller-sounding band, and on new material and old, Eggnogg are coming into their own. They’re still a better band than they know, and one hopes they can get some road time in as well as release the LP to continue to refine their approach. Eggnogg on Thee Facebooks.
9. Elder, Live at Roadburn 2013
Granted it’s been available through Burning World Records digitally since last November, but Elder‘s Live at Roadburn 2013 is set for physical issue early this year through the label, and having stood in front of the stage to witness the set myself at Het Patronaat in Tilburg and then seen the line running outside the venue and down the block, I can tell you it’s a beast. Put it on vinyl with cover art by Adrian Dexter and maybe a photo or two by yours truly and you’ve got a good way to get a preview for what their sets at the two Desertfests might hold this year. Elder on Thee Facebooks.
10. 40 Watt Sun, TBA
Speaking of Roadburn, emotive UK doomers 40 Watt Sun are set to make a return appearance at the fabled fest in the Netherlands, and the word was they’d do so with material from the follow-up to their 2011 Metal Blade debut, The Inside Room (review here), which established the band, led by guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker (Warning), as a deeply affecting act with a rich sonic texture. No word of an exact release date for the sophomore effort yet, but one expects it will receive no shortage of fanfare prior to and upon its arrival. 40 Watt Sun on Thee Facebooks.
11. The Golden Grass, TBA
Brooklyn trio The Golden Grass‘ One More Time b/w Tornado debut single was one of the best short releases of 2013, and the sunshiny classic heavy rockers will look to follow it with a first long-player this year. Recording is completed — the tracking was helmed by Andréa Zavareei, who also did the 7″ — and so is mixing, done by Jeff Berner (Naam, etc.), so with mastering in progress, hopefully it’s not too long before The Golden Grass can offer a right-on cure for wintry blues. It will be interesting to hear how they sustain and work within their positive vibes over the course of a complete LP. The Golden Grass on Thee Facebooks.
12. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes
Trails and Passes will be Greenleaf‘s first outing since 2003’s Secret Alphabets not to be fronted by Oskar Cedermalm (also of Truckfighters) and also finds the Swedish unit both with a new drummer (hello, Sebastian Olsson) and down from two guitars to one. It was five years between their third album, 2007’s Agents of Ahriman and 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here), so with a quicker turnaround and a stripped-down songwriting approach that seems geared more toward a live-sounding heavy rock presentation, Greenleaf could easily be positioning themselves as a full(er)-time touring act. The more the merrier. Greenleaf on Thee Facebooks.
13. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren
UK power trio Grifter surprised some with the quality of songwriting on their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), the lacking pretense of which was in proportion to its classic heavy rock influence, but The Return of the Bearded Brethren, which is set to release on Ripple Music, won’t have the advantage of sneaking up. If they’re throwing down a gauntlet, the confrontational pose of the shirtless tattooed beardo on their LP cover would seem to indicate it’s a considerable one indeed, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Grifter made following up on their self-titled sound as easy as they made infectious hooks sound the last time out. Grifter on Thee Facebooks.
14. Hull, TBA
Down from a five-piece to a foursome after having lost one of their three guitars since the release of 2011’s stellar second LP, Beyond the Lightless Sky (review here), 2014 marks an interesting point for singular Brooklyn post-thrashers Hull. With a Roadburn appearance slated and a limited vinyl reissue of their 2007 Viking Funeral debut EP in hand, they’ll look to bring their conceptual songwriting into a new presentational arc, and while that’s a fascinating prospect, I’m also looking forward to their new album because it promises to be heavy as fuck whenever it happens to arrive, hopefully by the end of the year. Hull on Thee Facebooks.
15. Lowrider, TBA
Were this list numbered in anticipatory rather than alphabetical order, Lowrider would be much closer to the top than lucky number 13. The Swedish four-piece will be recording their first outing since 2000’s genre-landmark Ode to Io this year after reuniting on stage at Desertfest 2013 — they’ll return to London next month with Dozer — and while I don’t know if it’ll be out by the time 2014 is done, I do know that the sheer prospect of a new Lowrider makes this year much better than it would be otherwise. I already invited myself to Sweden for an in-studio. More to come. Lowrider on Thee Facebooks.
16. The Machine, TBA
A couple weeks back, Dutch heavy psych rockers The Machine — whose split with now-defunct countrymen Sungrazer (review here) was my favorite short release last year — held a poll on their Thee Facebooks page to name their upcoming fifth album, which will follow 2012’s Calmer than You Are (review here) on Elektrohasch. My suggestion? Come to Light. It has the advantage of sounding psychedelic with an undertone of enlightenment to speak to the band’s continuing progression and it keeps with the prior album in being a reference to The Big Lebowski. No word on whether or not they’ll use it, but I’ve got my fingers crossed. The Machine’s website.
17. Mars Red Sky, TBA
Currently in the mixing stage, the second Mars Red Sky long-player will arrive on the heels of 2013’s Be My Guide EP (review here) and the Bordeaux fuzz trio’s self-titled 2011 debut (review here) and a host of tours and festival appearances. While their plans to record in the California desert reportedly didn’t pan out, the trio put much of the album to tape over the course of a week in Brazil following dates in South America, so it should boast plenty of sunshine either way. The album is due for release in April — a pro-shot live video of the new song “Satellites” was recently unveiled — and Mars Red Sky will also play at Hellfest in their native France in June. Mars Red Sky on Bandcamp.
18. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty
The Washington trio’s first album for Listenable Records and their second since picking back up after several years of inactivity while guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed concentrated on Stone Axe, Electric Mountain Majesty is done and mastered as of Jan. 5. Recorded by Reed himself, it will follow a pair of live outings in 2013 (reviews here and here) and 2012’s infectious return, Nomads(review here). I am fully prepared to have these songs stuck in my head for most of 2014, so bring it on. A March release has been floated, which would come ahead of an appearance at Freak Valley in late May. Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks.
19. Mr. Peter Hayden, Archdimension Now
Triumphantly creative Finnish cosmic doomers Mr. Peter Hayden will complete a trilogy with Archdimension Now that began with 2010’s Faster than Speed (review here) and 2012’s single-song 68-minute LP, Born a Trip (review here). Crushing tones and a formidable scope don’t seem like unreasonable expectations, though what really interests me is how the Satakunta five-piece will expand on the sound of their last album, which still seems to reveal something new each time I put it on. Their new single “We Fly High,” was streamed here recently and bodes well. Mr. Peter Hayden on Bandcamp.
20. Pallbearer, TBA
Pallbearer have toured hard since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), hit a nerve with doomers across the globe, and the four-piece from Arkansas are set to begin recording their next LP (presumably) for Profound Lore in February. If that puts a release for sometime in late Spring/early Summer, I would imagine it will come coupled with no shortage of live dates, since the band seems most at home on tour. Should be intriguing to have a document of how all that stage time has manifested in solidifying and adding confidence to their approach, and this is another one preceded by much anticipation. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks.
21. Papir, IIII
It would seem I have some purchases to make in order to catch up with Danish heavy psych jammers Papir. Aside from their recent collaboration with Electric Moon, the upcoming IIII will sure enough be their fourth album. Available now to preorder through El Paraiso Records, it is a vinyl-ready 47 minutes of smoothly shifting transitions between lush atmospherics and driving fuzz-heavy rock, ready to stand in line with progressive European instrumentalists like 35007, My Sleeping Karma and indeed their label honchos, Causa Sui. I had caught wind of 2013’s IIIpreviously, but deeper back catalog investigation is definitely warranted. Papir on Thee Facebooks.
22. Pilgrim, TBA
Just before they left to tour Europe with Windhand, Providence, Rhode Island, doomers Pilgrim recorded their sophomore full-length at Moonlight Mile Recording in scenic Jersey City, NJ. After the huge response garnered — and, I should say, earned — by their 2012 debut, Misery Wizard, the band jumped from Alan Averill of Primordial‘s Metal Blade imprint, Poison Tongue Records, to Metal Blade proper for the new one, which along with Pallbearer, 40 Watt Sun, Serpent Venom and The Wounded Kings (and no doubt others) makes a prospect for a thoroughly doomed 2014. So be it. Pilgrim on Thee Facebooks.
23. Radio Moscow, TBA
As I type these words, heavy rockers Radio Moscow are mixing their yet-untitled fourth album (fifth if you count 2012’s 3 & 3 Quarters, which was comprised of early unreleased material) at Big Fish Recording in Encinitas, CA. Details on the release are sketchy at best at this point, and by that I mean nil, but at least there’s progress being made, and since it’s still January, it seems entirely likely the album will surface one way or another in the next 11 months, barring disaster. The bombastic blues jammers led by Parker Griggs toured Europe last fall and rumor is there’s a run in the works for the US at the end of February into March. Radio Moscow on Thee Facebooks.
24. Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today
What’s not to like about a new Sigiriya album? The UK four-piece premiered “Tribe of the Old Oak” from Darkness Died Todayhere last month, and in addition to the considerable pipes of new vocalist Matt Williams, the track showcased a somewhat moodier psychedelic vibe from the band, who continue to distance themselves from Acrimony, of which bassist Paul Bidmead, guitarist Stuart O’Hara and drummer Darren Ivey were members, while also exploring new avenues from those of Sigiriya‘s debut, 2011’s Return to Earth(review here). I haven’t heard the whole thing yet, but they set a high standard last time. Sigiriya on Thee Facebooks.
25. Sixty Watt Shaman, TBA
Reason to Live, was released by Spitfire Records (remember them?) in… wait for it… 2002. Some 12 years ago. Now, these dudes have been kicking around in other bands since Sixty Watt Shaman sort of melted away in the manner that underrated bands often unfortunately do, but with the announcement of their appearances this year at Desertfest (info here) in April and The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 in May (info here) came word of a new studio release. EP or LP unknown at present. As killer as Reason to Live was, it just doesn’t seem fair to expect Sixty Watt Shaman to be the same band they were more than a decade ago. As such, I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m keen to find out. Sixty Watt Shaman on Thee Facebooks.
26. Skraeckoedlan, Gigantos
The 2011 debut from upstart Swedish heavy-hitters Skraeckoedlan, titled Äppelträdet (review here), was recorded by Oskar Cedermalm of Truckfighters and had much of that band’s fuzzy compression in blend with their own Mastodon-ic plod. It was a combination that worked so well I thought for sure the young outfit would return to Studio Bombshelter for their next outing, but no dice. As a result, I’m not sure what to expect from Gigantos, but I dug what I heard in a recent live video from them, so we’ll see how it turns out when the LP is done and I’m not about to judge either way until then. Skraeckoedlan on Thee Facebooks.
27. The Skull, TBA
I have no interest in downplaying any of the original members of Trouble‘s contributions to that legendary Chicago doom band (nor the work they’re doing now or those contributing to it), but there can be no question that Eric Wagner‘s voice is a signature element, and right now, that’s something The Skull has over the outfit from whence they sprang. Add to that Ron Holzner‘s bass and Jeff “Oly” Olson‘s drums and you’re well on your way to some foundational heavy. Among the best signs is that The Skull were recording with Billy Anderson (Sleep, the Melvins, Acid King, etc.), who obviously knows his shit and is likely to capture their sound as it should be: Completely doomed. Also keep an eye out for Wagner‘s side-project, Blackfinger, who have an LP coming. The Skull on Thee Facebooks.
28. Sleep, TBA
This would be the mother of them all, I guess. A new Sleep album. In addition to hinting at new studio outings by his own three-piece Om and Matt Pike‘s High on Fire, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros let it slip casual-style in an interview somewhere that Sleep were working on new material, thus snapping my Thee Facebooks feed in half. Fair enough. Working on material doesn’t mean we’ll see a record this year, or at all, but obviously if there’s a chance a new album might happen (I’ve been nerding out about the idea for a while; see here and here), it would be proof of justice in the universe. Seems an obvious thing that Billy Anderson would record this as well, and all the better. Can the Sons of Sabbath prove there’s life after Dopesmoker? For now, only the Antarcticans know. Sleep’s website.
29. Slough Feg, Digital Resistance
Slated for release through Metal Blade — they’re taking preorders — what if I’m not mistaken is the 32nd Slough Feg LP is due on Feb. 18. As much as I’m looking forward to the release of the record itself, having very, very much enjoyed 2010’s The Animal Spirits (review here), I’m even more interested to see if I finally get up the gumption to interview guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi. Something about a dude who doubles as a philosophy professor and who’s been putting out records in his band since I was nine and long before anyone gave a shit I’ve always found intimidating. We’ll see if I’m up to it this year. @Slough_Feg.
30. Snail, Feral
Last summer, West Coast riffers Snail announced the departure of guitarist Eric Clausen, which means that their fourth outing, Feral, will be their first as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson, bassist Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson since their 1993 self-titled debut full-length (reissue review here). Should be interesting to see how the shift to their original lineup changes the tenor of Feral as opposed to their two albums with Clausen, 2009’s comebacker Blood (review here) and 2012’s Terminus (review here), but as the first audio from the record begins to surface, Snail‘s sound seems to still very much have its core intact. Terminusbrought in something of a rawer heavy metal influence coming off the languid, dreamy Blood, but as they’ve been back together now for going on half a decade, no doubt a few more twists are in store. Snail on Thee Facebooks.
31. Steak, TBA
Quickly emerging at the fore of London’s enviable up and coming heavy rock scene — and, in the case of guitarist Reece Tee, helping shape it as one of the architects of Desertfest — Steak are set to debut this year on Napalm Records with what will be their first full-length following two EPs, 2012’s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013’s Corned Beef Colossus (review here). They’ve put in time on tour — they’ll play in Spain with Monster Magnet and in London with Lowrider and Dozer in February — and seem to be ready to take the next step in releasing an album, and after the conceptual elements of both EPs, I’m eager to see where the next chapter of their story goes. Steak on Bandcamp.
32. Stubb, TBA
Tracking is to begin a few weeks from now for Stubb‘s second album at Jon Davis of Conan‘s Skyhammer Studios. After the release of their 2013 single, Under a Spell (review here), and the departure of drummer Chris West, guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland acquired Tom Fyfe to fill the position, and subsequently found a label home on Ripple Music. It’ll be a different Stubb than they were on their 2012 self-titled debut (review here), but the fuzz runs strong in them however the changes might manifest in the finished product from the studio, and I can’t even think of “Under a Spell” without hearing the chorus in my head, so yeah, I’m on board.Stubb on Thee Facebooks.
33. SunnO))) & Ulver,Terrestrials
A collaboration between drone lords SunnO))) and Norwegian post-black metal progenitors Ulver probably isn’t the kind of thing that’s going to make you crush a beer can on your forehead and call your bros to come over and check it out (actually, I don’t know what kind of music does that, but it probably sucks), but Terrestrials has the potential to be one of 2014’s most unique releases all the same. After Ulver‘s delving into orchestral minimalism on 2013’s Messe I-IX, it’s really anyone’s best guess what this will sound like when it comes out on Feb. 4. SunnO))) explored some cinematic ground with 2009’s Monoliths and Dimensions (review here), but still, to speculate seems like setting myself up to be a fool later. Southern Lord Recordings website.
34. Tombs, Savage Gold
For their third album for Relapse, Brooklyn three-turned-four-piece Tombs headed south to Florida to record with Hate Eternal‘s Erik Rutan. If vague Thee Facebook posts are anything to go by, the resulting LP is 57:18 and titled Savage Gold. I’m not sure when it’ll be out, but as the follow-up to 2011’s widely and loudly lauded Path of Totality, whatever it’s called and whenever the new Tombs shows up, chances are it’s going to receive as much extremity as it doles out. Tombs on Thee Facebooks.
35. Triptykon, Melana Chasmata
Heirs to the black, shiny and probably spiky throne of Celtic Frost, ultra-dark metallers Triptykon will answer 2010’s Eparistera Daimones (review here) with Melana Chasmata, which though it’s somewhat easier to type is no doubt even more gleefully excruciating a listen. As with the debut, they’ll mark the release with an appearance at Roadburn (info here). No audio has surfaced yet, but with a release date set for April 24, that can’t be too far off. Will Tom G. Warrior push Triptykon further away from their Celtic Frost lineage? I don’t know, but if there’s beauty in darkness, he’s the one to find it. Triptykon on Thee Facebooks.
36. Truckfighters, Universe
Feb. 4 is the stated release date for Universe (review here), the fourth album from Örebro fuzzdudes Truckfighters. The Swedish three-piece explore ground that at the same time is more emotionally complex than their last outing, 2009’s Mania (review here), and also more straightforward in the songwriting, resulting in a collection of tracks not necessarily as upbeat as some of what they’ve done in the past, but ultimately working toward a different kind of realization. No doubt hard touring will follow throughout the rest of this year, so if you want to catch Truckfighters, you’re likely to get your chance. Truckfighters on Thee Facebooks.
37. Valley of the Sun, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk
Like Truckfighters, Midwestern heavy rockers Valley of the Sun will issue their new album, the somewhat cumbersomely-titled Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk on Fuzzorama Records, and the two acts are slated to tour together in Europe from Feb. 8 through March 14 ahead of Valley of the Sun‘s April 1 release date. If you contributed to their crowdfunding campaign, you might already have a copy of Electric Talons of the Thunderhawkon vinyl, but either way, the official release is worthy of note, particularly for as much growth as the full-length (their debut) shows from 2011’s already-impressive The Sayings of the Seers (review here). Valley of the Sun on Thee Facebooks.
38. Weedeater, TBA
Not certain how to tell you this, but I’m not sure we’re going to see a new Weedeater album this year. Between the North Carolina sludgers’ busy tour schedule and Season of Mist reissuing their other four albums, it seems like an awful lot for Weedeater to then also write and record a follow-up to 2011’s Jason… the Dragon (review here). I’m not saying it can’t be done — hell, for all I know they’ve finished writing and the studio is booked — but if a new Weedeater arrives, although it was mentioned with their West Coast tour dates that start this week, right now it seems like it would be later in 2014 or maybe early 2015 by the time it gets here. Hey, I could be wrong. I’d prefer it that way. Weedeater on Thee Facebooks.
39. Wolves in the Throne Room, TBA
They put out BBC Session 2011 Anno Domini last year as a kind of holdover release, but last month brought news of new songs for 2014, which would be Wolves in the Throne Room‘s first since Celestial Lineage in 2011. They toured their heaviest yet that record, so a bit of a break wasn’t necessarily out of order, but for an act who inspire the kind of loyalty that Wolves in the Throne Room do, three years can be a long time. Not much by way of specifics on the new release, whether it’s a full-length or not, when they might record, where, or when it might surface, but we know they’ve got new material, and that’s a step. Wolves in the Throne Room’s website.
40. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum
Due Feb. 24 on Candlelight, Consolamentum is the fourth long-player in the tumultuous career of British progressive doomers The Wounded Kings, who despite a seemingly endless series of lineup shifts have managed to release their four albums in a span of six years. With guitarist/founder Steve Mills at the core and the eerie but powerful vocals of Sharie Neyland over top, The Wounded Kings have tapped into a doom quick to separate itself from the pack, and Consolamentum conjures some of their most oppressive atmospherics yet, with expansive cuts like “Gnosis” and “The Silence” fed into by ambient passages and interludes. The Wounded Kings on Thee Facebooks.
41. Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You
Desert legends Yawning Man released a split with Fatso Jetson in 2013 — only appropriate, since the two acts share Mario Lalli — but Gravity is Good for You, like whatever Acid King might have in store, is a holdover from last year’s list. Guitarist Gary Arce of the long-running and hugely influential instrumental jammers has reportedly been in the studio with Lalli and Third Ear Experience drummer Erik Mouness (video surfaced), but there’s yet to be concrete word on when Gravity is Good for You, reportedly a double album and the band’s follow-up to 2010’s Nomadic Pursuits(review here), might be finished. Got my fingers crossed it’s this year. Yawning Man on Thee Facebooks.
42. YOB, TBA
Feels like a terribly long way to go only to get to one of the albums I’m most looking forward to hearing, but the alphabet works in mysterious ways sometimes. On Jan. 7, Eugene, Oregon, überdoomers YOB posted the following on their Thee Facebooks: “Had an amazing YOB practice. The new songs are fully in focus. 2 mega DOOM bludgeoners, one “faster” song, and the most beautiful arrangement we’ve ever written to close. 4 songs, 55 minutes.” Last I heard, they were to begin recording for their seventh (man, time flies) LP this week with a release in the months to follow, and since YOB haven’t put out an album since 2004 that I didn’t pick it as my Album of the Year, you can bet your ass I’m looking forward to what they do next. Particularly that part about “the most beautiful arrangement we’ve ever written.” Sold. YOB on Thee Facebooks.
Others to keep an eye on, some mentioned above, some not:
Ararat, III (Another 2013 holdover) The Atlas Moth, The Old Believer (Out in June) Brant Bjork, Jakoozi Blackfinger, Blackfinger Godhunter, City of Dust Ice Dragon (Some older releases are being physically pressed and new stuff is never far off) King Buffalo (Their demo ruled) King Dead (First audio just surfacing, but holds promise) Lo-Pan (Been a while in the making at this point, hopefully 2014) Pet the Preacher, The Cave and the Sunlight The Proselyte (EP coming on Gypsyblood Records) Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean Saint Vitus (Began writing last Fall) Salem’s Pot, Lurar ut dig på prärien The Scimitar (Debut from Black Pyramid offshoot) Seedy Jeezus (Recording in Australia now with Tony Reed) Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen Spirit Caravan (Nothing announced but you never know)
Various Artists, Songs of Townes Van Zandt Pt. II Wino & Conny Ochs (Maybe, maybe not) The Wisdoom, Hypothalamus Wo Fat (New album recorded)
I’m quite positive that the first thing to happen after this is posted is that someone will chime in with something I forgot. At least I hope that’s what happens. As large as this list has turned out to be (much, much larger than I thought it would be when I started taking notes for it), there’s no way it could cover everything, and I hope if there’s an upcoming release in particular that you’re looking forward to, you’ll please let me know in the comments.
Thank you so much for reading and for all of your support. Here’s to an amazing 2014.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
As they make ready to enter the studio to record the follow-up to their 2012 Misery Wizardfull-length debut, Rhode Island doom upstarts Pilgrim have announced that they’ll join Windhand on a Fall 2013 European run. The two bands are no strangers, having done US dates together last year, and of course, Pilgrim played at Roadburn in 2013 as well, so this will be their second time on the continent this year. Still, good news all around for the band and for anyone who might find themselves in their destructive path.
Sayeth the PR wire:
PILGRIM coming back to Europe in November to support WINDHAND for a full tour!
Ready to enter studio next month!
Rhode Island Doom disciples PILGRIM have made an astonishing impact with the release of their debut album Misery Wizard and their European shows including a slot at this years Roadburn festival.
PILGRIM will return to Europe in November for a full tour with Windhand. Comments vocalist/guitarist The Wizard: “THIS IS GOING TO BE A TOUR WORTHY OF SONG AND LEGEND. Not only is it our first lengthy European venture, but we get to share it with our incredibly talented friends WINDHAND (whose music we worship). This is honestly a dream come true for us. We are will be featuring a new bass player for the excursion, whose identity shall remain a mystery for the moment. Unfortunately, we had planned to be supporting the release of our new record this tour, but due to various complications with our studio we were not able to meet our deadline. However, we just confirmed today that the recording of our second record will begin next month at Moonlight Mile Studios! And with that, so begins the next chapter of our pilgrimage. We have worked UNFATHOMABLY hard to make this tour come together. Blood, sweat, and tears. DO NOT MISS THIS TOUR!”
+ PILGRIM 01/11/13 BE – Ghent – Charlatan 02/11/13 NL – Venlo – Mudfest 03/11/13 FR – Paris – t.b.a. 04/11/13 UK – Birmingham – Asylum 05/11/13 UK – Manchester – Star & Garter 06/11/13 UK – London – Our Black Heart 08/11/13 ES – Barcelona – Rocksound 09/11/13 ES – Madrid – Rock & Pop 10/11/13 ES – Bilbao – Sentinel Rock Bar 11/11/13 FR – Clermont Ferrand – t.b.a. 12/11/13 FR – Strasbourg – t.b.a. 14/11/13 NL – Groningen – t.b.a. 15/11/13 DK – Aalborg – 1000 Fryd 16/11/13 SE – Gothenburg – Truckstop Alaska 17/11/13 DK – Copenhagen – KB18 18/11/13 DE – Hamburg – Rote Flora 19/11/13 DE – Berlin – Cassiopeia 20/11/13 DE – Leipzig – Zoro 21/11/13 AT – Wien – Vrena 22/11/13 DE – Günzburg – Donaustüble 23/11/13 DE – Köln – MTC 24/11/13 NL – Amsterdam – Occii
Posted in audiObelisk on June 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A couple things you’ll want to note as you make your way through the latest batch of audio streams from Roadburn 2013. First, the Satan’s Satyrs set is a Blue Cheer tribute, and that’s frickin’ awesome, and second, I’m pretty sure that Pilgrim photo below (from the same set as the one above) is one of mine. So, you know, it’s nice to be included.
Thanks as always to Walter and the Roadburn crew for letting me host these streams, and to Marcel van de Vondervoort for continuing to boldly helm the recordings year after year. Posterity owes you a gratitude.
The Pretty Things – Live at Roadburn 2013
Goat – Live at Roadburn 2013
Amenra – Live at Roadburn 2013
Cough – Live at Roadburn 2013
The Atlas Moth – Live at Roadburn 2013
My Brother The Wind – Live at Roadburn 2013
Satan’s Satyrs Tribute To Blue Cheer – Live at Roadburn 2013
Posted in Features on April 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
04.19.13 — 00.17 — Friday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
I was early to the Green Room, which is the middle-sized space at the 013. The first band on for Roadburn 2013 would be Black Bombaim, and if you’ve been here before, you know the crowds are serious and that if you’re not careful, you can wind up watching an act through an open doorway — which also happened to me more than once throughout the course of the evening. Plenty on time to see Black Bombaim, though, and no regrets for taking the head-first dive into jamming European heavy psychedelia, instrumental meandering to the cosmos. Man, all of a sudden it was a hell of an afternoon.
They were, as was somewhat expected, blissed right out, all-natural, all-jam, immediate swirl. The day had other starts on other stages, but for me, this was what it was about. I was stocked to watch them after digging last year’s Titansand 2010’s Saturdays and Space Travels(review here), and Tojo‘s bass tone served as an immediate reminder of why I can’t get enough of this kind of thing. Warm, grooving and perfectly suited to the band’s extended wandering progressions, I couldn’t have asked for more than I got as a way to kick off this year’s Roadburn. Watching guitarist Ricardo signal changes to drummer Senra, the whole thing had a very organic, very spontaneous vibe, and that’s just what you want. The first song was a little rough, but after that, they settled into a solid groove and stayed there.
Today was a fair amount of running around — less than some, more than others. Pallbearer were on the Main Stage shortly, and after the heavy dose of salivating they got in the US last time I saw them in New York with Enslaved (whose own Grutle Kjellson was kicking around here at some point today, seemingly just to hang out and why not?), I was curious to see how the Euro crowd would respond. Answer: Much the same. I knew what to expect in terms of performance, as it wasn’t that long since I last saw the band, but they still didn’t disappoint, and thinking about it in hindsight after seeing them on this stage, which is sizable to say the least, they were cramped at Bowery Ballroom. Tonally and in terms of presence, they more than held their own as a main stage act, which for only having one record out is all the more exciting.
Most of what they played I recognized from that record, early 2012’s Sorrow and Extinction(review here), and seeing them again, it was easier to get a sense of the four-piece’s live dynamic, Brett Campbell holding down the drama on guitar and vocals while bassist Joseph D. Rowland and guitarist Devin Holt bang their heads like they’re trying to get them to come off on the other side of the stage, and behind, drummer Mark Lierly steadily holding songs together and adapting fluidly to what would otherwise be stark tempo changes. The contrast of Rowland and Holt to Campbell is striking, but it makes Pallbearer a richer experience to watch. They’ve certainly had no shortage of hype around them since cropping up, but whatever else you might say about them and however loudly or emphatically you might say it, they’re well on their way to becoming a really great live act. Hopefully they continue to tour and carve out their sound and chemistry on the road.
Now, at every Roadburn, you’re going to see some things that you’ve never seen before and you’ll probably never see again. And even the stuff you have seen before — like tonight’s headliners, Primordial, for example, who came though NYC years back on the first Paganfest — is special here. Bands play better, play different material, and for an American coming over, it’s a chance to see European acts who probably aren’t going to be touring the States anytime soon. I say this so you understand why I left Pallbearer to go back and watch more of Black Bombaim. Since there’s so much going on at every fest, sometimes you have to make hard choices, and I almost always try to lean toward that which I’m less likely to run into later on or that which I’ve never seen before.
However, the Green Room was full to capacity and then some, so I wound up standing in the hallway in a cluster of people to watch for a couple minutes and then hit up the merch area across the way. I’d figured on picking up some discs and was pleased to find a host of Nasoni stuff again at the Exile on Mainstream table, including Johnson Noise and Vibravoid, as well as Burning World Records discs from The Angelic Process and Slomatics. Later on, I’d roll back through and grab more CDs from Svart and finally get a copy of The Midnight Ghost Train‘s Buffalo(review here) on CD. It wasn’t long though before I had to be back at the Main Stage for the start of Penance. Vocalist Lee Smith prefaced their set by saying it was the first time they’d played together since 1993, which math tells me was 20 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Butch Balich-era Penance a lot. I thought Spiritualnatural was a killer record and Proving Groundstill kicks my ass on occasion, but 1994’s Parallel Corners, with the lineup of Smith on vocals, guitarist Terry Weston, bassist Rich Freund and drummer Mike Smail has to be their high-point. The Pittsburgh natives resided at exactly the juncture where doom becomes metal, and with a riffy looseness and ultra-straightforward Sabbath-loving ethic, cuts like “Crosses” and “Words Not Deeds” brought out more than a fair share of righteous grooves. Both of those were standouts of their set — “Crosses” I took as a personal favor though I’m sure it wasn’t one — though long breaks between songs and surprisingly quiet banter from Smith seemed to undercut the momentum their riffs were building when they were actually playing, so it was hard for them to get on a roll.
No-frills trad doom, Penance nonetheless got their point across in beefy riffs utterly lacking in pretense. I checked in on Blues Pills in the Green Room from the hallway, and they seemed to be holding it down with no trouble, so I wandered back into the Main Stage area in time to catch “Words Not Deeds” round out the Penance set. From there, it was back to the Green Room to catch Pilgrim, who started early following a guitar and bass classic rocking-type jam during the setup that I’d be interested to hear them take elements from for their next album, which reportedly is in the works. They played new material and cuts from 2012’s Misery Wizarddebut like the immediately recognizable lumber of opener “Astaroth,” and not at all surprisingly, had the Green Room packed out the door. I don’t know if the Rhode Island trio are friends with the dudes in Pallbearer or what, but that’s a tour that should probably happen at some point. I’ve seen Pilgrim four times now since they put out that album, and they’ve only gotten stronger as a live act.
Though, to be fair, they did seem a little amped up at the start of their set, but the muscle memory kicked in before they were through the first song — you could actually see it — and they were locked in thereafter. I took pictures and then started to make my way through the crowd to watch from the back, and before I knew it, had kind of a, “Well shit, now what?” moment when the only place to be was outside the room. The answer to that question was “dinner.” I started to head out and get something to eat on the quick when I saw Gravetemple were just getting ready to hit the Main Stage for their start. With a lineup of a pedigree like that of Stephen O’Malley, Oren Ambarchi and Attila Csihar, popping my head in seemed like the least I could do on my way by. Csihar stood in front of a table of who knows what kind of manipulation devices, while O’Malley and Ambarchi came in soon enough on drone guitar. It was super-artsy in that particularly O’Malley kind of way, a different take on some of SunnO)))‘s atmospheres with Csihar‘s vocals providing a distinguishing element along the way. I dug it, but time was a factor, so I moved on to get a bite to eat.
Wound up with some salad, fish and plain pasta which I mixed in with the greens and the dill dressing. It was the first thing I’ve really eaten since I got on the plane that wasn’t a protein bar, and — here’s something that’s not at all shocking — I felt much better afterwards. My brain was like, “Dude, you’re the worst at life. You probably should’ve had a meal yesterday, jerk,” and I tried to argue back but there’s really no talking to that guy, so whatever. The salad was glorious in context for being just an ordinary salad, and though I got a piece of clam stuck in my tooth, the mixed fish was most welcome too. Nothing like actual protein drawing a direct comparison to the would be substitutes for it. By the time I was done, I felt like someone had just given me a piece of particleboard with macaroni glued onto it in the shape of the cover to Volume 4, and by that I mean ready to take on the world. This was fortunate, because High on Fire were getting ready to go on the Main Stage and play The Art of Self Defensefront to back.
Or maybe they weren’t getting ready. They kind of took their time coming out from the back, but with a backdrop behind them modified from the album’s original cover from its 2000 release on Man’s Ruin, High on Fire stormed — what else would they do, really? — through the riffy sludge of their first record in a manner befitting its grooving bombast. “10,000 Years” and “Blood from Zion” still feature in their set on the regular (they were aired when I saw the band in Philly late last year), but to get a song like “Fireface” out and have bassist Jeff Matz start off its viscous slog, it was a treat the three-piece seemed to enjoy as well, guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike cutting smiles every now and again between solos and the galloping riffs that started it all for the band. Tucked away in the back, drummer Des Kensel punctuated the stomp of “Last” and “Master of Fists” made for a suitably riotous finish, deconstructing at the end to leads and noise.
But they weren’t done. The bonus tracks from the 2001 Tee Pee Records reissue were also included, including the punkish rush of “Steel Shoe” and the Celtic Frost cover “The Usurper,” which Pike called the encore before they started. The room was the most packed out I’d see it the whole day, and it was the first complete set I watched. Elsewhere, other bands were playing, other special gigs taking place, but how could I not watch High on Fire do The Art of SelfDefense? In reception, the crowd was unanimous in fervent approval — heads banged, fists pumped, madmen shouted along to Pike‘s long-heralded battle cries — and particularly as the last High on Fire studio outing, De Vermis Mysteriis(review here) was so crisp and tight, it was striking to hear them take on the earlier material. Almost like they were letting their hair down a bit, though as anyone who heard that record can tell you, they’ve hardly lost their edge in the decade-plus since the first record came out.
Rounding out with “The Usurper,” High on Fire still finished early, a good 15 minutes before their scheduled end. I guess there’s only so much album to play. Fair enough. I took notes in my fancypants license place notebook and went back to the merch to pick up some more of the aforementioned odds and ends, and then headed back to the big room in plenty of time for the start of Primordial, who if nothing else were the most thoroughly fronted act I’ve seen so far. The Irish double-guitar five-piece were helmed by vocalist Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill, who came out with a bottle of Jameson and a bottle of wine and was through the better part of both by the time their 90 minutes were done, and from his stage makeup — that’s not to say corpsepaint, because it wasn’t really corpsepaint — and costuming to his intense on-stage persona, Averill positively owned the 013. I saw Primordial years back when they came through New York on the PaganFest tour (it was a lot of glockenspiels to get to a Primordial set, but worth it), so I knew just how much of a factor the performance element was, but like many before him, the singer stepped up his game to match the occasion, and in a space so large, it was an impressive feat of showmanship.
He also noted more than once from the stage that it was the band’s first time playing Roadburn, and made it clear he felt they were overdue in this — provocateur, I suppose, could be part of the role, but either way — and I wondered if perhaps he was putting in a bid for curator next year. That would assure Pilgrim a return slot (Averill released Pilgrim‘s Misery Wizard via his Poison Tongue imprint through Metal Blade Records), and I wouldn’t mind seeing them take on 2007’s To the Nameless Deadin its entirety, were it in the offing. His other band, the nascent and doomier Dread Sovereign, also play tomorrow, so there’s room to work with, I guess. In the meantime, this set touched on To the Nameless Deadand several others in Primordial‘s seven-album discography, beginning with “No Grave Deep Enough” from 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (review here) and spanning genres as much as full-lengths, running from post-black metal to Celtic-inspired progressions and keeping at times a doomly edge, particularly on newer material like “The Mouth of Judas” or “Cities Carved in Stone,” which closed 2005’s The Gathering Wilderness.
That LP’s title-track and “The Coffin Ships” also featured, the latter penultimate to To the Nameless Deadopener “Empire Falls,” with which they closed. In introducing “The Coffin Ships,” Averill mentioned it was about the Irish famine in the 1800s, and said they were bringing a bit of their history and culture to the here and now. By all accounts I’ve seen, he does seem to think of Primordial‘s music as a sort of ambassadorship — they were very much representing the Republic of Ireland on stage — and though I wondered if maybe there was anyone in the audience who hadn’t already heard of the famine, the song left little to want. Averill had slowed some by then, less foot on the monitor, less back and forth from one end of the stage to the other, tossing around the mic stand, calling everyone present including the band lazy cunts, and so on, but revived with “Empire Falls,” letting adrenaline carry him through the end of the set as he got on his knees and shouted the chorus at the somewhat-dwindled but still strong crowd, who were only too glad to return the favor.
So the headliners were done, but the night still had its closing acts to go. Averill had plugged fellow Irishmen Mourning Beloveth‘s set at Het Patronaat a couple times, and former Hawkwind/Meads of Asphodel bassist Alan Davey was doing Space Ritualin full on the Main Stage, but what I really wanted to see was The Midnight Ghost Train, who were playing at Stage01, formerly known as the Bat Cave, the smallest of the three rooms at the 013. It was full by the time I walked over, and I probably could’ve stood there and gotten bumped into again, and again, and again, but after 16 or 17 times, I started to get claustrophobic and had to get out. Much to my surprise, the band followed not long behind me.
Guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss, drummer Brandon Burghart and yet another new bassist walked through the crowd and out of the room. From my spot in the back, I got to say hi to both, and Burghart explained they were doing a stagger-on, one member at a time. Moss had left his guitar feeding back, so there was a steady hum, and I suppose walking back through the audience (no backstage to come out from) there was something of a delay, so that went long, but once their crazed, blues-infused rock got going, the full room of people there to see them had no trouble getting on board for the wild shuffling riffs and Moss‘ throaty vocals. From Kansas to Roadburn. They’re always a lot of fun to watch, and in Tilburg was no exception.
I stayed and got bumped into a few more times and then decided to check out a couple minutes of The Psychedelic Warlords, who were just getting ready for launch at the time. Space rock, man. It sure is spacious. They pulled a good crowd as well of loyal lysergeons and Davey, along with a full lineup of keys, guitar, vocals, drums and sax, were in the process of giving Space Ritualits due. By that point, the “get back to the hotel and start writing” urge was coming on pretty strong, and I didn’t resist. Outside, people sat at the picnic tables (new this year) or ate grub from the outside food stand (also new this year and just closing as I walked by) and smoked whatever they may have felt like smoking. Needless to say, Weirdo Canyon was also abuzz.
Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham of Electric Wizard were also hanging around the 013 lobby. The band curated tomorrow’s lineup under the heading of “The Electric Acid Orgy,” which one can only imagine will leave but a modicum of survivors. Looking forward.
Extra pics after the jump and more to come tomorrow. Thanks for reading.
Posted in Features on August 31st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m not sure how long my laptop battery is going to last, or what I’m going to do when it dies, but the idea for tonight is to write as much as I can while I’m actually at the El ‘n’ Gee in New London for the second night of Stoner Hands of Doom XII. Tomorrow starts earlier, so I don’t know when else I’ll have time to write.
In other words, I basically said “Fuck it, I’ll do it live.”
What you see in the photo above is the view from the couch I’m sitting on in the corner of the bar area. There are no plugs in the walls save for one that’s otherwise occupied. Tonight’s lineup is seven bands, which is one more than yesterday. Connecticut natives When the Deadbolt Breaks are setting up their gear behind me on the stage, and they’ll be followed in turn by Wizard Eye from Philadelphia, Long Island’s own John Wilkes Booth, Massachusetts’ Faces of Bayon, CT’s Lord Fowl, Maryland doomers Revelation. Rhode Island upstarts Pilgrim will close out the night. They’re here already wandering around, as are the Wizard Eye dudes.
Gonna be a good time no matter what else goes down, I’ve got no doubt. It’s also fest organizer Rob Levey‘s birthday tonight, so to Rob, happy birthday from the couch.
Night two of SHoD XII gets underway in about an hour, give or take. I’ll hopefully have updates as we go along, added to this post.
When the Deadbolt Breaks
UPDATE 7:43PM: As ever, Connecticut natives When the Deadbolt Breaks dipped their audience in a distortion caked coating of the truly deranged. They’ve gotten a new bassist since I last saw them, guitarist/vocalist Aaron Lewis perpetually chasing a rhythm section that can keep pace with him, both in tempo and tone. And by “keep pace,” I mean play slow as fuck. Reportedly, the second platter of Deadbolt‘s forthcoming 2LP release is one 60-minute-long song. That’s probably a solid format for the band to work in, as Lewis‘ songs have always tended to wander into these sort of pits of ambient quicksand. When he spaces out thusly, the atmospherics are almost always hypnotic, such as 10 minutes ago, when John Wilkes Booth vocalist Kerry Merkle had to rouse me back to conscious before handing me a couple stickers. The crux of Deadbolt‘s approach though is playing those sections off the droning doom that follows and metering them with sections of mournful, Danzig-style clean singing. There still isn’t a subgenre designation for what they do, but maybe sooner or later someone will come up with something. In any case, with all the lights turned low and a projector going, they were a suitably menacing start to tonight’s diverse roster of acts.
UPDATE 8:41PM: Guitarist/vocalist Erik from Philly trio Wizard Eye looked the part of the wizard manning his theremin, his dreadlocks dragging on the floor of the stage behind him, impossibly long. Long like you think of roads as being long. The three-piece blended Weedeater sludge with Fu Manchu stonerisms, had some Sabbath in there of course, but did not short either on aggression. Erik does guest leads on the new Clamfight CD and he showed off a bit of that prowess as well, in between bursts of dual-vocals with bassist Dave while Scott slammed away behind. They’ve got a CD for sale that I’ll pick up before the night is through, I’ve no doubt. This despite the incense on the stage behind Erik, which has now made the front of the El ‘n’ Gee smell like a teenager’s bedroom. Part of the package, I guess, and if it’s to be a total sensory experience, I suppose I shouldn’t complain. They were — what’s the word again? — heavy. Some familiar elements, but put to good use, and the theremin went a long way in adding to the overall wash of noise. Stone and tone: It’s not exactly the new math when it comes to this kind of thing, but Wizard Eye did well with it. The balance of the vocal mics was a little off coming through the house, but I get the sense in a smaller room, they’d be absolutely crushing. Philly’s Kung Fu Necktie, perhaps, or some basement where the soundwaves have no place to go and no choice but to cleave your skull.
John Wilkes Booth
UPDATE 9:33PM: I’ve known these dudes for years. Played shows with them, seen them come into their own as a band. It’d been a while though, and in the interim, John Wilkes Booth — as bands will do — wrote a shitload of new material. Also, apparently at some point Kerry Merkle‘s megaphone had babies and grew an entire family of effects pedals for the vocalist. Well done, proud papa. It’s been over three years since they released their Sic Semper Tyrannisfull-length (review here), so maybe they’re due for a new record as well. In any case, their crunching ’90s riffs — not quite stoner, not quite noise, but definitely heavy and skirting the line between the two — did not fail to satisfy, and Merkle‘s effects added complexity to what, admittedly, I used to enjoy the rawness of, without necessarily distracting from what bassist Harry, drummer Christian and subdued guitarist Jason were doing. Solid heavy rock band, as ever, and it’ll be interesting to hear how the vocal extras factor into a new recording. Actually, I guess I’d just like to hear a new recording, however the pedals may or may not play into it. These guys pretty obviously just do it because they love to do it, and that’s always welcome on any stage I happen to be in front of.
Faces of Bayon
UPDATE 10:25PM: If the next wave of stuff people decide to give a shit about was to be doom riffing mixed with old school death metal, I’d be happy to watch Massachusetts’ own Faces of Bayon lead the charge. Before the set even started, the charm was evident, as guitarist/vocalist Matt Smith asked the crowd in a low growl if they liked stoner doom. Later, after his amp cut out in the middle of one of the tracks from their Heart of the Fire LP — which, pros to the last, bassist Ron Miles and drummer Mike Brown kept going — Smith apologized to the crowd with a simple, “Sorry,” before resuming his tale of the fall of Lucifer in a low, throaty whisper. No substitute for that kind of charm, and to go with it, Faces of Bayon were crushingly heavy, Miles playing a six-string in the deathly tradition. I don’t think the winds of trend will ever blow in their favor, but I also don’t think they give a shit. They closed with a new song from an upcoming album which Smith said would be recorded this fall, and I guess someone needs to tell these dudes Labor Day’s on Monday so they can get on it. That last album got a huge response, so I’ll look forward to seeing how the next one comes out. If their closer was anything to go by, you can bet on slow, heavy and evil, with more than just a dash of stoner.
UPDATE 11:11PM: Double kudos to Connecticut’s Lord Fowl for not only rocking the house, but for rocking the house after the ultra-doom bestowed upon it by Faces of Bayon. I had wondered how the transition would go from Faces of Bayon‘s downer moodiness and morose heavy to Lord Fowl‘s upbeat arena-ready hooks, but the latter more than pulled it off. Their record, being the last one I reviewed before leaving to come up here on Thursday, was still pretty fresh in my head, but even those who didn’t know the songs were hooked by the time the four-piece were through album and set opener “Moon Queen” and its follow-up “Touch that Groove.” Another transition straight off the Moon Queen album that worked really well was “Streets of Evermore” into “Dirty Driving,” guitarist/vocalists Vechel Jaynes and Mike Pellegrino trading off lead spots in the process. I don’t know how much of the audience knew the songs going into the set, but Lord Fowl’s brand of rock is basically undeniable if you’ve ever had a ’70s chorus stuck in your head. They were unafraid to smile on stage, and everywhere they went, they made sure the crowd came with them. It was a lot of fun, and I still think there’s a lot more potential to them even than they showed tonight, though they showed plenty.
UPDATE 12:17AM: Of the handful of times I’ve seen Maryland doom stalwarts Revelation, this was easily the best. If you want to think of this weekend as one huge tone-off, then John Brenner and Bert Hall are the dudes who sneak in just at the last minute totally unsuspecting and walk away with the prize. They didn’t play anything new — as Brenner said on stage, they don’t know the songs — but their set was tighter and more energetic than I’ve ever seen from them. They weren’t jumping around the stage by any means, not thrashing about, but they delivered all the same. Brenner’s Laney sounded gorgeous, Hall played a bass that had an axe built into the body — one assumes it’s in case he has to chop wood in the middle of the set — and drummer Steve Branagan held down both quiet and loud with ease. Like several of the acts tonight — When the Deadbolt Breaks, John Wilkes Booth, Faces of Bayon – they’ve got new material in the works (as a recent audio stream will attest), but as the penultimate band of the night, they did well bridging a sizable gap in modus between Lord Fowl and Pilgrim still to come. The room has mostly cleared out and it’s getting late, but the people still here are glad to be, alternating between partying outside in the fenced patio area of the El ‘n’ Gee and just getting drunk(er) at the bar. Either way.
UPDATE 1:14AM: That picture above of Pilgrim was taken before the show started. Much to the credit of the hot-as-hell Rhode Island trio, they were here the whole show, and didn’t leave so far as I know as so many who played did. Maybe they went and got a bite to eat or something like that — to be fair, I wasn’t keeping tabs on them all night. Before their set started, they asked specifically to play in the dark, and the request was granted, so I was doubly glad to have snapped a few shots outside of them on the couch outside on the sidewalk. They’re the first band to play this fest that everyone in the place went right to the front of the stage to see. I stood back, and I think doing so helped me to see what it is about them that has the hype rolling so hard. To share: They’re young, and they’re frighteningly cohesive. They play off familiar elements — slow riffs, emotional anguish — but do so with strong performances and an air of sincerity. If you wanted to paint a picture of an exciting young act in the genre, that picture would probably look a lot like Pilgrim, and whatever excitement they have around them, they do well to justify it with the promise they show both on stage and in their recorded work. They were a great cap for the night and had a tremendous response. No complaints from my end. The only x-factor is if they can keep it together, but pending that, they’re most definitely on the right track. If nothing else, they’ve proven they’re a band worth pulling for.
UPDATE 2:25AM: Blue moon indeed. It’s full and up there and hard to argue with, and I’m down by the shoreline of the Long Island Sound outside with the laptop and I’m tired but things have been far worse. The trip back from New London to here was uneventful, at least in comparison to the evening preceding. Tomorrow I’m going to have to figure out a way to see every band play and also provide myself with some basic kind of nutrition. There’s a grease truck in the public parking lot across the street from the El ‘n’ Gee. The last two nights in a row I’ve been tempted to get a cheeseburger for the ride and both times I’ve chickened out and just gotten a bottle of water. Maybe tomorrow will be my day.
Akris are slated to open the gig at noon. I doubt they’ll actually start on time, but that’s what’s slated to go down, so I’m going to try to be there before then. I’ll crash out in a couple minutes, but not just yet.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
The good news continues to pour in from the Netherlands. This time, it’s hotter-than-hell Rhode Island youngins Pilgrim added to the Roadburn bill. They’ll be at SHoD this weekend as well, so maybe I’ll just have to say congrats to The Wizard in person. Way to go, gents.
Rhode Island’s Doom Disciples Pilgrim To Bring Misery To Roadburn 2013
We’re excited to announce that Pilgrim will be appearing at Roadburn Festival 2013 on Thursday, April 18th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.
Remember the time when the great bands of the Seventies—Wishbone Ash, Rainbow and Led Zeppelin, to name but a few—wrote their tunes around mythical stories involving swords, sorcery and magic? For those of us who are hungry for epic music that tells of majestic tales, look for the Misery Wizard (Metal Blade), the debut long-player from Rhode Island’s disciples of doom, Pilgrim!
The trio of drummer Krolg, the Slayer of Man, bassist the Soothsayer and guitarist / singer the Wizard combine the chest-caving sounds of Pentagram and the mountain-moving tempos of Reverend Bizarre and tie it all together under the spiritual guidance of the grand masters of doom, Black Sabbath. Deep within the thick sonic walls, listeners can hear the Wizard tell tales about ancient beings from the sky, timeless heroes and the eponymous Misery Wizard.
Gather ‘round at the 2013 Roadburn Festival and be immersed in the power and might of Pilgrim and the Misery Wizard!
Roadburn Festival 2013 will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.
Posted in Reviews on June 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was kind of a weird plan, but because I was going to be driving to meet The Patient Mrs. in Connecticut after the show, and because I was going to the show right from work, I wound up bringing my dog and leaving her in the car while I went and saw Witch Mountain, Lord Dying, Pilgrim and Bezoar at the Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn. I kind of felt like a bad dog owner, but I’d just bought her a new bed, I left her a full bowl of cold water, rolled the windows partway down and I’d waited until the sun was down so she wouldn’t be hot in the car. She slept the whole time, and I made periodic between-band visits to take her for walks around the block. Turned out to not be a problem.
Better, by waiting for the sun to go down so as to not bake my dog, I avoided the trap of arriving way too early as I had for the Pallbearer and Loss show a few weeks back and got there just as Bezoar were taking the stage. Everybody wins! The opening act and local to Brooklyn, they were celebrating the release of their full-length debut,Wyt Deth, and played the album through front to back, drummer Justin Sherrell picking up and putting down an acoustic guitar to play up the menacing dark folk aspect of their otherwise noisy and doomed approach. Like a lot of the psychedelic doom making its way out these days, there was some level of influence from Electric Wizard‘s latter-day output, but Bezoar had more going on than riffs and horror-movie lyricism.
Vocalist/bassist Sara Villard rested comfortably in her middle range, and both she and guitarist Tyler Villard were quick to lapse into washes of beastly noise and feedback, Sherrell following suit with adept fills and tom runs. They didn’t leave a landmark impression, being somewhat reserved on stage apart from Sherrell, but the music was solid and the performance effective nonetheless. Brooklyn’s scene continues to grow, and if Bezoar are going to join the ranks of quality acts from that hyper-gentrified corner of the world — there’s a list of them at this point, which I’ll spare — I’ll offer no contradiction. As I hadn’t yet heard Wyt Deth, they made a decent first impression.
A quick pop back to the car to check on the dog and I was back well in time for the start of Pilgrim‘s set. A bigger band who’ve had success in Brooklyn in the past, though they’re younger, they probably could’ve demanded a better spot on the bill than they got if they felt like being jerks — I’d figured the Providence natives for either closing out the night or playing between Lord Dying and Witch Mountain — but it’s to their credit that Lord Dying had the more preferable slot, being a part of the tour that made the show happen in the first place. They were palpably a stronger live act than the last time I saw them (see above link), and in particular, guitarist Jon “The Wizard” Rossi seemed more comfortable on stage and showed more personality behind his thoroughly downtrodden and doomed vocal delivery.
I think a lot of the excitement about Pilgrim — aside from their debut, Misery Wizard, having been issued through Alan Averill of Primordial‘s Metal Blade imprint — comes from the band’s potential to carry traditional doom forward into a new, post-millennial generation, invariably bringing some new sensibility to the style. How that’s going to work out in the longer term, I haven’t the foggiest, but Pilgrim at this point are a good, young, heavy band, and I’m not going to take that away from them just because there’s hype around their record. They still have growing to do, but again, it’s been about three months since the last time I saw them (I’ll see them again as they headline SHoD over Labor Day weekend), and there was already marked improvement, so they’re growing fast. Hard not to root for an act like that, which I guess is at least part of where that hype comes from.
Lord Dying were easily the most metal band of the night and a fitting complement to Witch Mountain in how different they were. A double-guitar four-piece, their set was thrash-informed traditional metal bombast. Riffs factored in heavily, but they weren’t really stoner or doom, just heavy and straightforward and mean sounding. I liked them immediately and didn’t stop liking them as the set played out. They’d sold out their CDs, or I would’ve bought one afterwards and rocked it on my way north on I-95. Can’t do that with a 7″. Too bad.
As infectious as their slowed-down thrashing was, though, it hit just as my guilt pangs at having left my poor little dog in the car were approaching critical mass. I left the club momentarily to take the dog for a walk around the block and at least let her move around a little bit, as she’d been in the car at this point for two-plus hours. She was fine — she has always seemed to prefer being left in the car somewhere to being left at home, when it comes down to one or the other — but still, with another two-hour drive after the show, it seemed only fair to leave Lord Dying to their ass-kicking for a bit and let the dog pee. She seemed to appreciate it, even if she did almost get in a brawl with a much-bigger bulldog mix coming down the block the other way. She’s a countrified dog. No class in the big city.
When I got back inside, Lord Dying were done and Witch Mountain were getting set up. I didn’t have the courage to introduce myself to guitarist Rob Wrong, whose concise opinions once provided the central critical voice of StonerRock.com, but his red rocker pants and matching guitar — with a green plate to play up the holiday spirit — were a suitable extension of the personality I’ve always admired in his writing. As Witch Mountain got set up, new bassist Neal Munson seemed to have some technical problems, but by the time the set started, everything was worked out. Wrong led the doomly charge with waves of riffs — he’d turned down the opportunity to run his cabinets through the P.A., saying it was unnecessary, he’d be plenty loud anyway — as bluesy and trained-sounding vocalist Uta Plotkin proved the performance on last year’s South of Salem was no fluke. If anything, she sounded better live than in the studio, and as powerful as she was on the record, that’s saying something.
Being so very, very behind on reviews, I hadn’t yet really had the appropriate chance to dig into the new and third Witch Mountain album, Cauldron of the Wild — also their Profound Lore debut — but “Beekeeper” was an early set highlight and drummer Nate Carson (a founder of the band along with Wrong and also of Nanotear Booking) crashed through lumbering pacing that gave Plotkin more than enough room to soar vocally, which indeed, she did. Despite my lacking familiarity with the material, though, Witch Mountain were engaging and came off as tight as a band should be who’ve already been on tour the better part of a week, cracking a smile at a flub here and there but pressing on with the song all the same. They were heavier tonally in person, and it’s not often I’d refer to a band’s melodicism as “sick,” but seriously, these were some sick melodies.
It got to be past midnight and I knew I’d be on the road until around 2AM, so I made my way out and back to the car, where I fired up the directional robutt and followed its satellite course on more highway interchanges than I credited Brooklyn with having before finally stumbling on I-95 and defying the navigational system by taking it, knowing it was ultimately where I wanted to end up anyhow. Sure enough, I arrived at the Connecticut shoreline to find The Patient Mrs. already asleep, which the little dog soon would be as well. I stayed up a while longer to key down and finally called it a night going on three, promising myself I’d sleep late while knowing it wasn’t true.
Posted in Reviews on March 3rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last night, New York was an embarrassment of riches. Not just in the usual hedge-fund manager kind of way, either. The semi-reunited Van Halen was at the Garden (not my thing, but apparently enough people’s thing to sell out an arena), and C.O.C. and Torche were further downtown with Valient Thorr and A Storm of Light, and Windhand, Pilgrim and Magic Circle were in Brooklyn with hometown metallers Natur closing out the night at Public Assembly. I know I bitch a lot about the city — and with good reason — but this stuff doesn’t happen everywhere.
It was C.O.C.‘s first tour after the release of their new album, putting them to the task of convincing their audience they can still bring it live, but I saw them on New Year’s, so I was already well convinced. I wanted to see Windhand again after catching them at SHoD last year and continuing to enjoy their 2011 self-titled, and I’d never seen Pilgrim or Magic Circle, so the choice seemed plain. Not only that, but I figured that with so much else going on, there was a chance it would be like doom shows in New York used to be before everyone, you know, gave a shit.
Wrong-o on that one. Public Assembly was packed from the time I walked in (following a quick sojourn at the Academy Records Annex down the block) and only got more so as the night wore on. I was there well in time to catch the start of Magic Circle‘s set, and recalled the band’s name from the fact that they’ll be sharing the stage with Saint Vitus, Church of Misery and Kings Destroy at Chaos in Tejas in Austin, TX, come June. It was something of a surprise then when frontman Brendan Radigan, also of Boston hardcore outfit The Rival Mob (also Mind Eraser), announced that it was their first show.
They were pretty doomed out, and I marked that as a win. Radigan‘s stage moves, full of twisting arms, orchestra-conductor hands, rolled-back eyes and sundry torso contortions, added to the eerie feel of the double-guitars, and they were tighter than one might expect for not having played live before. If they’d had a CD for sale, I would’ve bought it, but the set had to suffice on its own, and it managed to do just that. There seemed to be a pretty decent age differential among band members, but whichever side of the stage you looked at, the band functioned well, had a couple choice song titles and some noteworthy banter through the mic. A bit of old-school metal chugging toward the end endeared them to denim/leather and flannel alike.
I’d had my customary three beers by the time they were finished, downing the last of the last as I stood along the back wall and watched them wrap the set, but being there by myself and it being more crowded than I initially thought meant that pretty much went out the window. Call it “extenuating circumstances” if you want, but I’d had a fourth before Pilgrim got going; the youngster doomers down from Providence, Rhode Island recently released their Misery Wizard full-length debut on Primordial frontman Alan Averill‘s Poison Tongue (run through Metal Blade), and as the zip file has been on my desktop waiting for review for the last month, they were a bit of a curio.
My initial impression from hearing their recorded stuff was they sounded like The Gates of Slumber sounding like Saint Vitus, and I kind of expected the live show to follow suit, but they were more characteristically individual on stage. They are young, though. Really young. I mean, I know I’m getting older, but even if I saw Pilgrim five years ago and they were the same age they were last night, they’d still look like kids. Now that I write it, I’m not sure who that says more about, but screw it, there it is.
For what it’s worth, their sound reflected their youth, both in that it felt like they were at the beginning stages of a longer developmental process and that they were able to energetically play songs about wizards and sword-fighting without coming off as insincere. Their guitarist/vocalist, who by no coincidence goes by the moniker The Wizard, did indeed channel his inner Karl Simon as we all must from time to time, but his misery felt genuine enough to carry it across, and shirtless bassist Count Elric the Soothsayer and drummer Krolg, Slayer of Men (who played mostly hidden behind the bulk of his kit — doubtless stealth is one of his slaying tactics), did well locking down the slower grooves in the rhythm section. Pilgrim were fun. No complaints.
They were selling their record, both the jewel case and digipak versions, as well as posters and shirts and whatever else. I bought the jewel case — they’re a dying breed and built to last — and, while I was there, grabbed Windhand‘s CD as well, keeping just enough cash left over for one last beer as they were setting up. Public Assembly had already hit the point where it was hard to move, so I situated myself up front and waited for the ethereal Virginian doomers to commence peddling their cultish wares, expecting much fuckedupness to ensue shortly.
Probably true, I should’ve learned my lesson about the accuracy of my expectations the second I walked in the door at the venue, but clearly I hadn’t. Before Windhand even got through their first song, guitarist Asechiah Bogdan (whose name beats Pilgrim‘s members outright, and is probably real) blew out his amp. They played the first song as a four-piece, and did it pretty well, considering, but cut off before the second got going and took what wound up being a long break while dealing with the technical problems. Happens to everybody sooner or later.
Could’ve easily been worse. The house music never came back on, if that tells you anything. Windhand eventually got going again, Bogdan joining fellow guitarist Garrett Morris and bassist Nathan Hilbish for a thoroughly satisfying wave of doomly fuzz that wholly justified both the trip in and the wait for sorting out equipment troubles. Drummer Ryan Wolfe (ex-Facedowninshit, current-The Might Could) was dead on, and vocalist Dorthia Cottrell managed the difficult task of steering the band back on track quickly and efficiently. At one point — I think it was during “Winter Sun,” the closer from the album and the highlight of their set — she seemed fully locked into the undulations of the riff, shifting forward and back in a way that was both hypnotic and really hard to capture with a camera for someone who, let’s say, has only the most basic awareness of how one works. Just an example.
But if 200 completely unusable shots were the outcome of watching Windhand play, they were more than eclipsed by the force with which they doom. Perhaps it was the realism of technical difficulties, but their perceptible cultish leanings in the recorded material took a backseat at Public Assembly to the sheer weight of the songs themselves which, either as the foursome or with Bogdan plugged in and ready to go, came across undeniably well. I was already intrigued to find out where their next record would take them, but having seen their presence fill out as it has even since their appearance at SHoD, they could easily morph into a wholly distinct outfit of marked potency. The potential is there, is what I’m saying.
Similar things have been said about Natur (who are not to be confused with Stevie Floyd from Dark Castle‘s solo-project of the sane name), but it was getting on midnight and I had work this morning, which, coupled with the band’s locality, was enough for me to justify skipping out. Won’t do much for my Brooklyn cred, but I live in Jersey, so Brooklyn cred was a pipedream anyway — just ask the publicists who don’t return my emails. My thinking was we’ll run into each other sooner or later, and hopefully that’s true as well of Magic Circle, Pilgrim and Windhand, since it seemed to be that each had showed some measure of potential do contribute something unique to the genre — and mostly in different ways — while also happening to kick some ass in the meantime. As I rolled back into my humble river valley at around 1AM and put a pillow over my head to call it a night, my lips couldn’t help but curl in a smile at the payoff of my doomed gluttony.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 8th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m already tapped for three shows this weekend (and I’m what’s the word, oh yeah: old), but I might have to hit up Brooklyn‘s Saint Vitus Bar next Thursday too to catch Rhode Island doomers Pilgrim as they play their forthcoming Misery Wizard album in its entirety. The band are signed to Primordial frontman Alan Averill‘s Metal Blade imprint, Poison Tongue Records, and have more in common with The Gates of Slumber than just the one dude’s skullet. Plus, Dutchguts are always fun.
Here’s the news:
The latest addition to the MetalBlade roster via AlanNemtheanga‘s imprint, PoisonTongueRecords, is RhodeIsland‘s Pilgrim. The doom trio, which consists of: Krolg Splinterfist, Slayer of Men on drums, Count Elric the Soothsayer on bass guitar and The Wizard on guitar and vocals, will be performing their first ever headlining show next week in NewYork. The show will be at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn with Salo, Dutchguts and The Year is One. Doors are at 7:30pm and tickets are $8.
Pilgrim’s debut album, Misery Wizard, will be available on February 14 in North America and January 30 in Europe. Fans that attend the SaintVitusBar show will hear the band perform the album in its entirety! If you’re in the NYC area, don’t miss out!
Pilgrim with Salo, Dutchguts, The Year is One 12/15 Brooklyn, NYSaint Vitus Bar